CT attorney general taking part in multi-state opioid epidemic investigation

TOLLAND --  Several state’s attorney generals, including our own here in Connecticut, are now going after the pharmaceutical companies selling opioid prescription pain medication.

Attorney General George Jepsen announced Thursday that he is part of the group forming a task force to investigate whether the big pharmacies took part in unlawful practices when selling the drugs.

Randy Osgood

Those in our state impacted by the opioid crisis first hand are reacting to the move.

“My son was 14, he was a freshman in high school," said Lori Jackman.

Jackman’s son, Randy Osgood, broke his arm in gym class as a teen, changing their lives forever.

"It was really badly broken and he needed surgery. He was given opioids for the pain.  I was not warned of the addictive qualities that these had, he certainly didn’t know. Had I known I would have probably opted for a different option to try first but we didn’t know so that began his downward spiral of drugs," said Jackman.

A battle with drug addiction, Randy eventually lost. Lori found him after an overdose in his bedroom. He was just 21.

“So good that the attorney general is holding pharmaceutical companies accountable,” said Jackman.

“Frequently these drugs are a bridge to heroin or fentanyl or illegal narcotic," said Jespen.

Jepsen is now looking into whether the producers of prescription opioids sold or marketing the drugs unlawfully by downplaying the risks of their addictive quality.

“If manufacturers are overstating the virtues of pain relievers to both doctors and patients we want them to stop," said Jespen.

The issue also gaining attention from the medical community who are too dealing with this issue first hand. The Emergency Department at Saint Francis for example,  are handling 30 percent more overdoses in 2016 compared to just one year before.

It’s going to get much worse before it gets better,” said Dr. Steven Wolf of St. Francis Hospital.

Wolf said the move by the attorney generals can potentially be a powerful one.

“I really do think this is similar to the tobacco issue. The big settlement where it was also a question of when did they know how addictive cigarettes were and how that was marketed," said Wolf.

Wolfs pointed out that since opioids hit the medical market, more information about the drugs has come to light.

“I think there was an under-appreciation in the medical profession about the addictive quality of these medications," said Wolf.

The CDC reporting since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has quadrupled. In the same time frame the number of overdose deaths involving opioids has also quadrupled, numbers mothers like Jackman, are desperate to see go down.

"It’s so important to me because the group of parents that I belong to who have lost their kids to opioids is just growing. No one wants to be in this group but it’s just growing by leaps and bounds and until people do something about it we’re just never going to resolve it," said Jackman.