BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The battle against the opioid epidemic has been fought on many fronts, and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a new legal one Tuesday. A coalition of 41 attorneys general will investigate the pharmaceutical industry.
"There's never been as comprehensive an effort as the one we are launching now," Schneiderman said.
The coalition has already served subpoenas to four major manufacturers and a supplemental subpoena to a fifth. It's also demanded documents from three more companies that manage roughly 90 percent of the nation's opioid distribution.
"Our subpoenas and letters seek to uncover whether or not there was deception involved, if manufacturers misled doctors and patients about the efficacy and addictive power of these drugs," Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman said the coalition wants to do a broad investigation before it proceeds to any litigation.
"We hope that this will lead to some reforms by the industry itself," he said.
In Buffalo, for the annual substance abuse treatment provider’s conference Tuesday, were three parents who lost children to opioid addiction. They believe the investigation is a major step toward holding Big Pharma accountable for the epidemic.
"It's about time and I'm thrilled that this is happening," Avi Israel, founder of Save the Michaels of the World, said.
The parents said they're also looking for an admission of responsibility from Big Pharma and believe companies could face similar repercussions to what Big Tobacco saw decades ago.
"They were asked to the table a long time ago, so the time to do the right thing has passed. So now let them pay punitively," Linda Ventura, Thomas' Hope Foundation founder, said.
Schneiderman said investigators have already seen evidence from previous lawsuits that appear to show some deceptive marketing practices.