Ga. Attorney General announces creation of opioid task force

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announces opioid task force  / Matt Thielke (WGXA)

ATLANTA -- Attorney General Chris Carr announced the creation of an opioid task force in response to what he called a "national emergency."

At a press conference on Monday, Carr said the task force will provide an "infrastructure of communication between private, public and non-profit sectors, local, state and federal officials and other stakeholders" to combat the issue.

“We wanted to create that platform so we can leverage the assets of the experts in the state to solve the problem," Carr said.

He read startling statistics about opioid abuse at the press conference.

"We're dealing with an epidemic that every three months in killing people in our nation at a rate equivalent to the lives lost on 9/11," Carr said.

Last year, 982 Georgians died from opioid overdoses, a tenfold increase since 1999, according to Carr. It's a problem that affects both urban and rural parts of the state.

While Carr acknowledged the real need for some opioid prescriptions, he said that sometimes dependency on the pills leads to an increase for the demand of illegal ones.

The task force's first meeting will be on Oct. 4 at Atlanta Technical College.

On Sept. 19, Carr announced that a group of attorneys generals were looking into documents and information from manufactures on prescription opioids.

Specifically, Carr said that they want to evaluate whether or not the manufacturers were unlawful in the marketing and distribution of opioids.

The attorneys general served investigative subpoenas to Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan and their entities and served a Civil Investigative Demand to Purdue Pharma.

"Between 1999 and 2015, more than 500,000 people in this country died due to drug overdoses - a death toll larger than the entire population of the city of Atlanta," Carr said in a release. "We owe it to Georgians to get the the bottom of th is crisis, and we look forward to learning more on their behalf."

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