Coalition of attorneys general investigate drug manufacturers, distributors

Steve Griffin / The Salt Lake Tribune Following the deadline in the state Constitution, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, state Auditor John Dougall and state Treasurer David Damschen take the oath of office in a simple ceremony performed by Utah Supreme Court Justice John A. Pearce. in the State Capitol Gold Room in Salt Lake City Monday January 2, 2017.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, along with attorneys general from 40 other states, is investigating whether unlawful business practices contributed to the nation’s escalating opioid abuse.

A coalition launched a multistate investigation into whether opioid distributors and manufacturers played a role in “creating or prolonging this [opioid] epidemic,” Reyes announced Tuesday.

AmerisourceBergen, a drug distributor headquartered in Salt Lake City, is among eight companies that have been served investigative subpoenas this week, according to a news release from the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

The documents the attorneys general requested will be used to determine whether any of the companies engaged in “unlawful practices in the marketing, sale and distribution of opioids,” the news release stated.

Utah’s involvement in the investigation is part of the state’s three-pronged approach to combatting opioid addiction; in May, Reyes announced a task force of lawmakers and medical professionals to address opioid abuse in Utah.

Reyes co-authored a letter on Monday, asking health insurance companies to examine their policies and incentives to ensure they aren’t contributing or encouraging opioid addiction.

“Solving the current opioid crisis is incredibly challenging because there are so many layers of contributing factors involved. This letter is significant but only a part of one area of concern,” Reyes wrote in the letter to health insurance companies. “To be clear, this letter is not an accusation of wrongdoing aimed at the recipients but rather an attempt to ask partners in the private sector to be part of the multi-faceted solution to the crisis.”

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