Tuesday, May 10, 2022
State AG Perspective: Exposing the TruthGuest post by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, New York Attorney General Letitia James, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares
Today’s disclosure of more than a million documents from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the country’s most prolific opioid sellers, is an important step to expose the truth and prevent a manmade crisis like the opioid epidemic from ever happening again.
Drug companies profited by pushing dangerous prescription opioids, and Americans have become the biggest users of opioids in the world. Communities across our nation suffered the consequences as a result: addiction, overdose, and death.
Families most impacted by the crisis have led the way in advocating for justice. Parents whose own children died because of the opioid crisis have dedicated years of their lives to protect others. They demanded that lawbreakers be held accountable, failed systems be reformed, and urgent investments be made for harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and prevention.
State Attorneys General heard the calls for action and acted. Working together, across party lines and across the nation, our teams conducted a searching investigation of illegal conduct throughout the opioid industry. We filed lawsuits and won verdicts from judges and juries, forcing companies to pay tens of billions of dollars that will be dedicated to address the crisis.
An essential part of justice is exposing the truth. Our teams pursued that truth for years. Our efforts resulted in the public disclosure of millions of documents and of the critical facts revealed by witnesses ranging from drug sales reps to company presidents.
We rejected the companies’ attempts to keep the evidence sealed, or to hand it back to the perpetrators. Instead, we posted it online.
For the first time in a generation, since the landmark tobacco cases, an industry’s secrets are being turned over to the public. Under orders entered by courts throughout the nation, millions of opioid industry documents will be posted in a free public archive, in perpetuity.
The families who suffered in this crisis will be able to see for themselves the evidence that we uncovered – the company emails, board minutes, and business plans that changed so many lives.
Journalists, filmmakers, artists, and scholars will tell the story of this epidemic using the real words and actions of the people who drove the opioid business.
Policymakers throughout the country will be informed by what went wrong.
Executives, directors, and employees in every industry will know that, if they break the law and endanger the public, the whole world may see what they did.
Today is a step toward justice. We are grateful to the advocates who demanded action in the face of a devastating crisis, to our staff who work every day to serve the public, and to the archivists at the University of California San Francisco and Johns Hopkins who will preserve this evidence for the public good.