Executive Council votes to restart NH investigation into possible fradulent opioid marketing
CONCORD – A unanimous vote by the five-member Executive Council just may jump start a stalled state investigation into potential deceptive marketing of opioids in New Hampshire by major drug companies.
Wednesday’s vote gives Attorney General Joseph Foster a total of $175,000 to rehire a law firm that was conducting the investigation into whether pharmaceuticals were downplaying the addictive nature of opioids. The funds will come out of the Consumer Protection Escrow Account.
The move comes after a Merrimack County Superior Court judge struck down the state’s contingency fee contract with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, saying the Attorney General didn’t have the authority to hire an outside legal counsel without approval from the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee and Executive Council. Foster’s expected to make the same appeal to the committee on Friday
Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern told NH1 News that “the opioid crisis is critical for us to tackle. We cannot pull any punches. That includes putting the drug companies on notice, making sure they know we are going to do everything we can in our power to protect the people of New Hampshire.”
“There’s a lot of evidence that there may have been fraudulent marketing techniques. Our state is awash in prescription pills and I’m glad that we’re going to be doing everything that we can to investigate that and if we need to take it even further,” added Van Ostern, who’s running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Gov. Maggie Hassan told NH1 News that the investigation “that will look at whether pharmaceutical companies were inappropriately or fraudulently marketing opioids. We know that a very high percentage of people who are now addicted to heroin or fentanyl started with prescription opioids and this is something that we really do need to get to the bottom of and to the extent that we were to find that there was fraudulent marketing by any pharmaceutical company I hope that we could recover damages to help the state respond to the opioid and heroin epidemic.”