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Fighting Against the Opioid Epidemic

Utah currently ranks 4th in the nation for opioid drug overdose deaths, losing 6 people a week to the epidemic. This is a nation health crisis and a priority of the Attorney General’s office since Sean D. Reyes took office.

In June, Attorney General Sean Reyes joined Brian Besser, DEA District Agent in Charge, in creating an executive Opioid Task Force to address the epidemic. The task force consists of skilled partners, including Speaker Greg Hughes, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, Rep. Steve Eliason, Senator Evan Vickers, Councilmember Jenny Wilson from the Salt Lake County Council, members of law enforcement, the medical community, academia, and congressional delegation staffers.

The Attorney General’s Office has been diligently working to help stem the tide of the opioid addiction in the state. Below is a list of actions taken by AG Reyes and the Opioid Task Force for the last few years.

2014
FEB: Arrest of Victor Rax – known drug & human trafficker.

2015
OCT:  AG Reyes urges Congress to pass the Comprehensive & Addiction Recovery Act of 2015

2016
JUL:    AG Reyes joins investigation by a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids

OCT:   AG Reyes files lawsuit with 36 other AGs against Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment drug, for blocking generic competitors

2017
APR:   AG Reyes promotes turning in unused prescription drugs on for Utah Takeback Day

MAY:  AG Reyes creates Opioid Task Force with DEA, Utah legislators, community members, and public health officials to act against opioid epidemic

JUN:   In conjunction with the DEA, Utah AGO assists in one of the largest heroin busts in Utah history, arresting 35 conspirators

SEPT: AG Reyes urges health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Utah by co-authoring a letter with a coalition of 37 states and territories 

OCT:   AG Reyes joins a bipartisan group of AG’s encouraging 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management services to implement programs that mitigate prescription opioid abuse

Utah Opioid Task Force alerts health care providers and law enforcement that Naloxone rescue kits, are legal and only used as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose

NOV:  AG Reyes advocates for and assists DEA in bringing DEA 360 to Utah

DEC:   AG Reyes invited to White House to consult with on President Trump’s declaration of opioid crisis a “health emergency”

MISC: AG Reyes creates number for mental health support

 


Human Traffickers Receive Maximum Penalty

After pleading guilty to two counts each of human trafficking, Lynnsie Reddish and Terrance Jones were sentenced on Monday, January 22nd, to an indeterminate prison sentence of 1-15 years on each count, the maximum sentence for their offenses, for charges investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG).

Last July, the OAG’s SECURE Strike Force arrested and charged Reddish and Jones with sixteen felony offenses, including Aggravated Kidnapping and multiple counts of Human Trafficking, based on evidence of a long-term sex trafficking operation they ran out of a residence in Ogden City.

At a preliminary hearing last July, seven women testified about their experience working for the operation. They testified that Reddish and Jones exploited their drug addictions, poverty, lack of housing, and other vulnerabilities to recruit them to work in commercial sex. According to the women, Jones was the drug supplier and the “muscle” for the operation. He handled payment transactions and nearly all the money made went to him and Reddish.

Two of the women testified to the violence Reddish and Jones used against them when they tried to leave. One woman shared that Reddish and Jones held her in a room, cut off her hair, and beat her with a belt. The other, after refusing to have sex with a “client”, left the house, was chased down, and beat in the street. One of the women Reddish recruited is autistic and meets the definition of a vulnerable adult. According to the victims, Reddish knew about her disability and forced her to work anyway, often beating her up or locking her into a closest when she refused. This victim’s story is part of the basis for an upcoming bill this legislative session to increase penalties for human trafficking of vulnerable adults.

All Human Trafficking victims are referred to Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, a partner agency with the Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force (UTIP), for aftercare services.

Human trafficking tips should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

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NOTES:

  1. The Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force is tasked by the Utah legislature with investigating and prosecuting large-scale criminal operations including human trafficking. Read more about the SECURE Strike Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/uncategorized/secure-task-force.
  2. For more information about the Utah Trafficking In Persons Task Force, go here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/human-trafficking.
  3. To learn more about the work of the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, check out their website here: https://aau-slc.org/.

AG’s Office Releases Draft Opinion on 3rd Congressional District Special Election

Controversial request spotlights conflict between state law and legal ethics

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Attorney General’s Office received a waiver from Governor Herbert allowing it to release a legal opinion to the legislature on issues related to the special election in the Third Congressional District.

The opinion was drafted in May, 2017, but not disclosed due to ethical concerns with its release. Now that the threat of litigation has passed, and the governor has issued a waiver, the ethical barriers to sharing the opinion have been removed. The opinion was hand-delivered to the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and Governor.

The opinion indicates that Governor Herbert’s actions appeared to be within his statutory and constitutional authority to call the election as he did. The opinion letter, while in draft, was the subject of controversy– not due to its content, but because conflicting interpretations of the law, constitutional responsibilities, and legal ethics provided no clear ethical path for immediate release of the document. 

Now that the opinion is public, the Attorney General’s Office anticipates this will negate the need to pursue a petition for judicial review of the State Records Committee’s decision on this matter.

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NOTES:

  1. Find a PDF copy of the letter and related documents at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2018-01-16-CD3-Ltr.pdf.
  2. Attorney General Reyes penned an op-ed in November regarding the elections opinion letter and finding an ethical path forward. You can read that here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/op-ed-the-disputed-special-election-letter-and-the-ethical-path-forward.

Quinlen Atkinson Sentenced for Human Trafficking

Weber County, Utah  December 20, 2017 –Attorney General Sean Reyes today announced the guilty plea and sentencing of Quinlen Atkinson to human trafficking.  Atkinson pled guilty to Human Trafficking, a second degree felony. Atkinson was arrested and charged by the Utah Attorney General’s Office, SECURE Strike Force, last year as part of its ongoing commitment to eradicate human trafficking in Utah. He will serve up to fifteen years in prison.
 
“Exploiting and abusing young people in this way is one of the most repulsive acts imaginable,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I want to thank the brave men and women of our Attorney General’s Office, especially Assistant Attorney General Dan Strong who brought the charges and to our elite investigative unit, the Utah SECURE Strikeforce, for bringing this predator to justice. I also want to invite the community’s prayers on behalf of the victims and their families for a recovery that will help them reclaim their lives and their innocence.”
 
Atkinson came to the attention of authorities after they received reports that he had recruited two high school students—one 17 years old and the other 18 years old—to work as part of his commercial sex operation. Witnesses reported that Atkinson substantially managed the commercial sex operation, including transporting both girls within and outside of the state for the purposes of commercial sex. Atkinson was alleged to have kept most or all money earned in this operation, despite promising the girls he recruited that he would invest the money and purchase them a house.
 
Atkinson was sentenced to prison by the 2nd District Court for Weber County. He will serve between one and fifteen years in prison, as determined by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
 
The Utah Attorney General’s Office administers and coordinates the SECURE Strike Force partnership with the Utah Department of Public Safety and county, federal and city law enforcement agencies to combat violent and other major felony crimes associated with illegal immigration and human trafficking.
 
If you believe you have a tip about human trafficking, please call the tip line at 801-200-3443.
 

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EDITOR’S NOTES: 
 
1. The mission of the Utah Attorney General SECURE Strike Force is to carefully target major fraud, organized gun, drug and human trafficking, detect creation of fraudulent government identification and other documents, and prosecute these crimes with specialized investigators and resources and a dedicated Assistant Attorney General prosecutor.
 
2. The SECURE Strike Force is an integral part of the Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force.
 
3. Read more about the SECURE Strike Force here.


Utah Attorney General's Office

A.G. Reyes Announces a $220 Million Multi-state Settlement with Deutsche Bank for Manipulating Interest Rate Benchmarks

LIBOR manipulation hurt government and not for profit counterparties

in Utah and across the country

SALT LAKE CITY  October 30, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes today announced a $220 million settlement with Deutsche Bank for fraudulent conduct involving the manipulation of LIBOR. This is a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions of dollars and has a widespread impact on global markets and consumers.

“The fraudulent acts by Deutsche Bank hurt Utahns, cheating local non-profits and governmental bodies out of millions of dollars through fraudulent manipulation of interest rate benchmarks,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Any company that defrauds Utahns out of hard-earned money must be held to account.

“I appreciate the hard work by Ron Ockey, Antitrust Section Director, David Sonnenreich, Deputy Attorney General, and Edward Vasquez, Assistant Attorney General, and their team for their hard work on this settlement.”

The investigation, conducted by a working group of 43 State Attorneys General revealed that Deutsche Bank manipulated LIBOR in a number of ways.  Deutsche Bank employees improperly (a) made internal requests for LIBOR submissions to benefit Deutsche Bank’s trading positions; (b) attempted to influence other banks’ LIBOR submissions in a manner intended to benefit Deutsche Bank’s trading positions; and (c) received communications from inter-dealer brokers and external traders attempting to influence Deutsche Bank’s LIBOR submissions.  At times, Deutsche Bank LIBOR submitters and supervisors expressly acknowledged and indicated they would work to implement the requests they received.

Given this conduct, Deutsche Bank LIBOR submitters and management had strong reason to believe that Deutsche Bank’s and other banks’ LIBOR submissions did not reflect their true borrowing rates (as they were supposed to do pursuant to published guidelines) and that the LIBOR rates submitted by the banks did not reflect the actual borrowing costs of Deutsche Bank and other panel banks.

Deutsche Bank employees did not disclose these facts to the governmental and not-for-profit counterparties with whom Deutsche Bank executed LIBOR-referenced transactions even though these rates were material terms of the transactions.

Government entities and not-for-profit organizations in Utah and throughout the U.S., among others, were defrauded of millions of dollars when they entered into swaps and other investment instruments with Deutsche Bank without knowing that Deutsche Bank and other banks on the U.S. Dollar (USD)-LIBOR-setting panel were manipulating LIBOR.

Governmental and not-for-profit entities with LIBOR-linked swaps and other investment contracts with Deutsche Bank will be notified if they are eligible to receive a distribution from a settlement fund of $213.35 million.  The balance of the settlement fund will be used to pay costs and expenses of the investigation and for other uses consistent with state laws.

Deutsche Bank is the second of several USD-LIBOR-setting panel banks under investigation by the State Attorneys General to resolve the claims against it and has cooperated with the investigation.  The Utah Attorney General’s Office benefits from the information and evidence provided by corporations that timely cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigations. Such cooperation can facilitate civil enforcement efforts, including the distributions of funds for victims of the offense.

In addition to Utah, the states joining the  Deutsche Bank  settlement include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  The investigation into the conduct of several other USD LIBOR-setting panel banks is ongoing.

 

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Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Attorney General Recovers $1.6 Million for Medicaid in Dispute with Mylan Over Misclassification of Epi-Pen

SALT LAKE CITY October 27, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today that proceeds of a settlement with Mylan pharmaceutical have been delivered, and Utah has settled allegations against Mylan Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P. (Mylan).  The settlement will resolve allegations that Mylan knowingly underpaid rebates owed to the Medicaid program for the drugs EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr.® (EpiPen) dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries.  Under the settlement which involved all fifty states and the federal government, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million to the United States and the States.  The States will share $213,936,000 of the total settlement.  As part of the settlement, Utah received a total of 1.6 million dollars which represents recovery for the state and federal government for expenditures to the Utah Medicaid program.

“The pharmaceutical industry produces many vital drugs and products for the benefit of our citizens, but like any other major industry, there need to be safeguards in place and rigorous enforcement of the law to assure that the taxpayers are being treated fairly under the regulations established by Congress,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Mylan Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.  It manufactures, markets and sells pharmaceuticals through its wholly-owned subsidiaries.  Mylan Specialty is a Delaware limited partnership with its principal place of business in Morgantown, West Virginia.  Mylan Specialty owns the exclusive rights to sell EpiPen in the United States and possesses legal title to the New Drug Codes (“NDCs”) for EpiPen. 

The Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute was enacted by Congress in 1990 as a cost containment measure for Medicaid’s payment for outpatient drugs.  That statute requires participating pharmaceutical manufacturers or NDC holders, such as Mylan, to sign a Rebate Agreement with the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services as a precondition for obtaining Medicaid coverage for their drugs and to pay quarterly rebates to State Medicaid programs for drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries.  NDC holders are required to provide information to CMS concerning their covered drugs.  In particular, they (Mylan) must advise CMS regarding the classification of a covered drug as an “innovator” or “noninnovator” drug, as the amount of rebates owed varies depending on the drug’s classification.  The amount of the rebate also depends on pricing information provided by the manufacturer.  For drugs classified as “innovator” drugs, NDC holders must report their “Best Price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter. 

Specifically, this settlement resolves allegations that from July 29, 2010 to March 31, 2017, Mylan submitted false statements to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) that incorrectly classified EpiPen as a “noninnovator multiple source” drug, as opposed to a “single source” or “innovator multiple source” drug, as those terms are defined in the Rebate Statute and Rebate Agreement.  Mylan also did not report a Best Price to CMS for EpiPen, as that term is defined in the Rebate Statute and Agreement, which it was required to do for all “single source” and “innovator multiple source” drugs.  As a result, Mylan submitted or caused to be submitted false statements to CMS and/or the States relating to EpiPen for Medicaid rebate purposes, and underpaid its EpiPen rebates to the State Medicaid Programs.  

Mylan’s settlement with the United States also resolves allegations that Mylan Specialty overcharged certain entities (known as the “340B Covered Entities”) that participated in the 340B Drug Pricing Program, 42 U.S.C. § 256b.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Utah Department of Health worked with the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“NAMFCU”) Team who participated in the settlement negotiations with Mylan on behalf of the states.  Assistant Attorney General Robert Steed stated, “Mylan captured the attention of Congressional and local leaders of their price increases of the drug Epi Pen which is still a matter for review, but this settlement resolves a separate matter concerning the classification of the same drug for purposes of paying governments the correct rebate amount.”

 

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Naloxone Rescue Kits

Utah Opioid Task Force Encourages Access to Naloxone Rescue Kits

Naloxone rescue kits are legal and save lives, says Opioid Task Force leaders

SALT LAKE CITY  October 26, 2017 – Upon receiving reports that naloxone rescue kits were being confiscated, the Utah Opioid Task Force reiterated the legality of the life-saving kits and encouraged first responders, healthcare workers, and others to be ready to use them to save lives. Naloxone hydrochloride (Narcan®) can be a life-saving medication and is used solely as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose.  Utah law permits any individual within the state of Utah to obtain, carry, furnish, and administer naloxone to anyone at risk of overdosing themselves or to anyone at risk of witnessing an overdose around them. 
 
“Utah laws permitting the use of naloxone were put in place to save lives, especially with the alarming number of Utahns dying of opioid overdoses. We are worried and concerned about recent reports that life-saving naloxone kits have been confiscated from those who can use them to save lives,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Anyone in possession of a naloxone kit has the ability to keep a victim alive until they can receive emergency medical aid.  The taking or confiscation of these rescue kits is rarely an appropriate action and could potentially result in a life lost.”
 
“The opioid crisis is devastating Utah and this country,” said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes. “Naloxone rescue kits may be the difference between life and death for someone’s family member, friend or loved one. In 2014 and 2016, the Utah Legislature passed laws that permits the dispensing of naloxone. Naloxone kits may provide a second chance for individuals struggling with an opioid addiction, assists in the battle of this horrific pandemic and helps combat the devastation that follows. As we are fighting this opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation, it is crucial this life-saving tool be readily available to those willing to carry and administer it.”

“The burgeoning heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping across the state is claiming the lives of over 24 Utahn’s per month – the devastation and loss of human life experienced by families within our local communities is utterly overwhelming,” said DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser. “The DEA Salt Lake City District Office and Metro Narcotics Task Force highly encourage the personal appropriation and immediate availability of naloxone kits for Utah’s first responders, educators, and any private individual willing to carry and administer this life-saving drug. The robust availability of individual Naloxone kits will greatly assist law enforcement officers and medical professionals in combatting this vicious plague and the carnage it leaves behind.”
 
“Naloxone rescue kits across the state of Utah, in the hands of nonmedical laypeople, have been responsible for over 1,800 lives saved,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb, Medical Director of Utah Naloxone. “Carrying naloxone is an important and responsible strategy for anyone who knows individuals who may be at risk of an opiate overdose.”
 
While there are different forms of naloxone rescue kits available, the most widely available kit has an injectable form of naloxone.  This administration method requires individual naloxone in vials as well as syringes for administration of the medication. The only way to administer this form of naloxone is by using syringes.  It is essential that injectable naloxone be carried with syringes always.  These syringes are essential for the delivery of this life-saving medication and should not be viewed as paraphernalia.
 
Naloxone may now be obtained without a prescription throughout the state of Utah, via a standing order issued and signed by the Director of the Utah State Department of Health. There is not a prescription required to possess it or furnish it to another individual.  There are multiple agencies statewide who are actively supplying kits to community members to help them save lives around them.  These include EMS agencies, medical providers, the substance abuse recovery community, agencies that work with those experiencing homelessness, and the state’s largest healthcare organizations. 

The Utah Opioid Task Force was formed in early 2017 and is a voluntary task force made up of representatives from partner agencies and organizations across the state. The mission of the Task Force is to take action against opioid abuse through law enforcement, prosecution, proposed legislation, and innovation.

The Utah Opioid Task Force was organized by Attorney General Sean Reyes, Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, and includes representatives from the Utah State Senate, Utah House of Representatives, law enforcement, government agencies, and volunteer organizations.
 

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Utah Attorney General's Office

Resources for Utah Victims of the Harvest Music Festival Shooting in Las Vegas

SALT LAKE CITY October 11, 2017 – In the wake of the Harvest Music Festival Shooting, the Utah Attorney General’s Office announces that the City of Las Vegas is working towards finding all victims of the Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is offering everyone who was at the venue the opportunity to obtain counseling and victim compensation assistance in the wake of the tragedy.

If you attended the festival and are a Utah resident impacted by this tragedy, services such as counseling and victim compensation assistance are available to you. Please don’t hesistate to reach out to the resources listed below.

Please visit the victim assistance website—here—operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to navigate through the process of organizing counseling, receiving compensation, or retrieving your belongings.

https://www.fbi.gov/resources/victim-assistance/seeking-victim-information/assistance-for-victims-of-the-harvest-music-festival-shooting-in-las-vegas

Additionally, if you have lost any property you may have left behind, please complete the Victim Questionnaire.

https://forms.fbi.gov/seeking-victims-of-las-vegas-music-festival-shooting

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Financial Fraud Institute - St. George UT

Utah Attorney General’s Office Joins Federal, State and Local Government Officials to Educate Investors on How to Avoid Fraud

Public Seminar to be Held in St. George

SALT LAKE CITY October 10, 2017 – In a collaborative effort, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has joined with federal, state and local government officials to establish the Financial Fraud Institute and will hold a multi-agency seminar designed to educate Utah investors and consumers on how to recognize and avoid financial and consumer fraud. 
 
The free seminar is open to the public and will be held in St. George on November 2.  Follow us on Twitter at #StopFraudUtah.
 
Officials from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Utah Attorney General’s Office, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Utah Division of Securities, Utah Division of Consumer Protection, FBI, IRS and the Washington County Attorney’s office will participate in the seminar.
 
United States Attorney for the District of Utah John W. Huber will be the keynote speaker at the seminar. This is the third in a series of seminars to be held by representatives of the Financial Fraud Institute.
 

The seminar will provide information on: key questions to ask before making investment decisions; where to find free and unbiased information; how to spot financial scams; and how to report suspected fraud. 
 

WHO: National and local experts from federal and state law enforcement and financial regulatory age. 

WHAT: Financial Fraud Institute Seminars to educate investors and consumers on how to recognize and avoid fraud.

WHEN: November 2, 2017. 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. See full agenda

WHERE: The Dixie Center, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George, UT. 

Those interested in attending the seminar must register at: www.utfraud.com, or call 801-579-6191. For more information, visit www.utfraud.com.
 
The seminar is open to the press.  Press interested in attending the event should contact Melodie Rydalch of the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office on 801-243-6475 or melodie.rydalch@usdoj.gov.

 
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Utah Attorney General Announces Multistate Opioid Investigation

State Seeks Documents from Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

SALT LAKE CITY  September 19, 2017 – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general are seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This information will enable the attorneys general to evaluate whether these businesses are engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. 41 attorneys general from U.S. states and territories are participating in the investigation. This action is the latest in Utah’s multifaceted effort to end the current opioid addiction crisis.

The attorneys general served investigative subpoenas for documents and information, also known as Civil Investigative Demands, on Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan, and their related entities, as well as a supplemental Civil Investigative Demand on Purdue Pharma. Likewise, the attorneys general sent information demand letters to opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson requesting documents about their opioid distribution business.

The attorneys general seek to determine what role the opioid manufacturers and distributors may have played in creating or prolonging this epidemic and determine the appropriate course of action to help resolve this crisis.

As with any case, the entities involved in the investigation are not guilty unless proven otherwise and deserve a presumption of innocence. Some of the companies have indicated their intent to cooperate. A few have proactively implemented programs to combat opioid addiction and illicit sale and abuse of opioids.

Nationwide and in Utah, opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, including 646 in Utah. Nationwide, opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

Attorney General Reyes stated, “Far too many of our friends, family, and neighbors have fallen victims to the devastating plague of opioid addiction. These drugs have taken many lives and ruined countless more. We will win this fight but need everyone’s help to do it. We will do everything possible to protect the ones we love.”

Mark Steinagel, Director of the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) at the Department of Commerce stated, “The United States drug system was designed to test, manufacture, distribute, prescribe, and dispense drugs along multiple check points established to protect the public. As a state agency tasked with licensing professionals who prescribe and dispense opioid prescriptions, we are very concerned if any of those checkpoints have failed. DOPL appreciates the partnership with Utah Attorney General’s Office in investigating this serious matter.”

In addition to this investigation, the State of Utah is actively addressing the opioid epidemic on multiple fronts, including the following:

  • A 9/18/17 letter to insurers, co-authored by Attorney General Reyes, that requests health insurance companies examine policies and financial incentives that may contribute to the opioid epidemic. The letter and AG Reyes’ statement on that action is available here.
  • Utah Department of Health efforts, which include Controlled Substance Database analysis, prescriber education and guidelines, and public awareness on the risks of overdose and addictions.
  • The statewide Utah Coalition for Opioid Overdose Prevention.
  • The DEA-AG Joint Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by DEA Agent Brian Besser and AG Sean Reyes, which focuses on intelligence gathering, dedicated criminal prosecution, and criminal enforcement.
  • Support for the Road to Recovery Act, proposed federal legislation that would eliminate a restriction on using Medicaid funding for in-patient drug treatment.
  • Partnerships with multiple community organizations on addiction, recovery, and prevention.

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 EDITORS NOTES:

1. Find drug overdose death data on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html
 
2. Find more information on the AG’s 9/18/17 letter to insurers at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/attorney-general-reyes-helps-lead-37-states-territories-in-fight-against-opioid-incentives
 
3. More information on the Utah Coalition for Opioid Overdose Prevention is available at http://ucoop.utah.gov 


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