JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — When it comes to the Missouri opioid epidemic, help may be on the way from Missouri’s Attorney General.
During the month of February, KOLR10 is focusing on ways for people to get help for various problems including opioid addiction.
On behalf of the Missouri, Attorney General Josh Hawley wants to help those affected by opioid addiction… by way of a 42-page lawsuit.
“Missouri is among the hardest hit states in the country in terms of opioids effect on us,” Hawley says.
“We are suing three of the largest opioid manufacturers in the country. Purdue pharmaceuticals, Endo health solutions, and Janssen pharmaceuticals. We have evidence that these companies spent millions of dollars misrepresenting the nature of these opioids drugs. Essentially lying about them to doctors, and then lying about them to doctors and lying to patients and consumers. Trying to get doctors to prescribe more of them, and trying to get patients to ask for them,” says Hawley.
The lawsuit outlines many alleged misleading claims made by these companies over the past couple of decades.
“The claims made by the opioid manufacturers were that these drugs were not addictive if used over a long period of time,” says Hawley. “We know that’s not true, the pharmaceutical companies knew that wasn’t true.”
Another claim was pseudo-addiction, meaning people just think they are addicted.
“Telling the patients who are quite possibly addicted to opioids, that the cure for their problem is more opioids is just unbelievable,” Hawley says.
Hawley says money was the motive to deceiving people.
“They have made billions of dollars, and they have driven opioid abuse and addiction to record levels, and it is having devastating effects. In 2016 for instance; almost 1,000 people died in the state of Missouri from either an opioid overdose, or a heroin overdose,” Hawley explains.
Once a persons’ tolerance plateaus with prescription drugs, some search elsewhere to get the high they crave.
“The use of prescription opiates acts as a gateway drug to heroin,” says Hawley.
With all that has been said and done by these opioid manufacturers, Hawley says it is actually Missouri citizens that have been effected by the epidemic. That is who he is looking to help.
Edgar “Rock” Hagens is a recovering heroin addict who has been clean for 18 years.
Like many others, Rock started with prescription drugs, then moved on heroin. After several prison stints, it was a spiritual awakening, and an inpatient rehab center that helped him kick heroin. He says he would like to see more help available for those reaching out.
“Treatment is the number one thing we need in this community,” Hagens says. “We need to help people to get into detox units, and then help people get into a 21 to 30 day bed. I think if we have more of those things available, it may make a big difference in some of these kids that are dying today.”
Meanwhile in Jefferson City, Hawley is seeking to provide those options.
“We are seeking what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages,” Hawley says. “What we want to see that go to is victim recovery, victim restitution, job training, addiction treatment, and community betterment and recovery programs. Let’s help victims get treated. Let’s get them back on their feet, let’s get them clean so they can re-enter society.”
With the well being of Missourians on his mind, Hawley hopes this lawsuit will be a big step in combating the opioid epidemic.