Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt Announces Ongoing Investigation to Address Opioid Epidemic

June 15, 2017

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced an ongoing investigation to help address the opioid crisis in Nevada and around the country. The Office of the Nevada Attorney General has been working with a bipartisan coalition of a majority of attorneys general from across the country in an ongoing investigation to evaluate whether manufacturers have engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids. The attorneys general are investigating what role the opioid manufacturers may have played in creating or prolonging this epidemic. The coalition of attorneys general is using its investigative tools, including subpoenas for documents and testimony, to determine the appropriate course of action to address the opioid epidemic.

    Opioid abuse results in behavioral and biological health issues that affect individuals, families and communities, and costs our nation more than $740 billion in crime, lost work productivity and health care each year. Nationwide and in Nevada, opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 nationwide deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. In 2016, Nevada was ranked as the sixth highest state for the number of milligrams of opioids distributed per adult according to a study by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

      “The national opioid epidemic has hit Nevada hard, and we have been investigating drug manufacturers for many months,” said Laxalt. “This is an important investigation on behalf of the health and safety of all Nevadans.”

        Though the Office is not identifying the target(s) of its investigation at this time, Attorney General Laxalt wants to assure the residents of Nevada that his office is taking steps to help address this opioid epidemic.

          AG Laxalt has been actively working to combat the opioid epidemic since his inauguration. In addition to the efforts of his Bureau of Consumer Protection that has been investigating opioid issues for months, AG Laxalt chairs Nevada’s Substance Abuse Working Group, a group created by Assembly Bill 61 that consists of nine appointed members. In January, 2017, the Working Group submitted information and recommendations to the Nevada Legislature for consideration. This Session, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General proposed Senate Bill 59 (SB 59), a bill that implements the recommendations of the Substance Abuse Working Group to combat prescription drug abuse in Nevada by requiring the reporting of controlled-substance violations, prescription drug-related overdoses or deaths, and reports of stolen prescription drugs to the Prescription Monitoring Program. SB 59 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law on May 30, 2017.

            On June 28, 2016, AG Laxalt entered into a $5.3 million settlement with Volkswagen over allegations regarding deceptive trade practices by marketing diesel vehicles equipped with undisclosed defeat device software. As part of this settlement, AG Laxalt obtained specific discretion, among other uses, to allocate these funds in efforts “[.. .] regarding the use, abuse, misuse, and disposal of prescription and illicit drugs […] and to support the enforcement, administration, or dissemination of public education related to opioid addiction, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug abuse” or for any other purpose as authorized by the Legislature as part of his effort in working to combat the opioid epidemic.

              To view SB 59, click here. To view the recommendations of the Substance Abuse Working Group submitted to the Legislature, click here.