Oklahoma Attorney General Seeks Criminal Charges Against Opioid Industry

Friday, October 20th 2017, 6:40 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma's Attorney General is now calling on the federal government to take action against opioid makers and suppliers. Mike Hunter wants to use the RICO Act to pursue criminal charges.

Hunter says the state is doing everything it can to curb the opioid epidemic, but he says it is time for the federal government to get involved, going after the drug manufacturers themselves. In a letter thanking Jeff Sessions for his visit to Oklahoma Thursday, Hunter is imploring the national Attorney General to do more to combat the national health epidemic caused by opioid addiction.

“When the 14 counties surrounding Tulsa are supplied enough pills for every man, woman and child last year to have 90 pills, that’s unacceptable,” Hunter tells News 9.

Hunter says drug manufacturers and the suppliers who distribute the pills have shown a “reckless disregard for human health”, which is why he wants them to be charged criminally, invoking the RICO Act. “The conduct of these drug manufacturers and distributors is a criminal enterprise,” he says, “and we need to treat it like that.”

Hunter says the RICO Act is the most powerful tool available to go after the industry, and he thinks it could really make an impact, saying, “You get into the middle of the organization. You get into their distributing. You get into stopping the oversupply.”

Hunter's office filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies this summer, seeking damages to pay for addiction treatment statewide. Plus, he is heading up the state’s Commission on Opioid Abuse, which is working to get illegal suppliers off the street, but he says only a comprehensive effort from all sides will make change happen.

“Demand is an important part of this, getting people treatment, getting them help,” says Hunter. “Addiction is an illness. It’s not a sin, but the supply side, we’ve got to make it uneconomic for dealers.”

Hunter hopes to meet AG Sessions in Washington to further discuss a plan of attack.