Lawmaker urges Hawaii to take action against makers of addictive painkillers

Tens of thousands of Americans who are addicted to painkillers die each year from drug abuse.

One Hawaii lawmaker says the drugmakers are to blame.

Sen. Josh Green, D, Kona, Kau, who’s also a physician, says he’s seen plenty of drug overdoses come through his emergency room.

He says the state is struggling to treat patients addicted to prescription painkillers, and is urging the state to take action.

Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi are suing pharmaceutical companies, claiming they lied to the public about the safety of these prescription painkillers.

Green wants Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, to join the fight.

Green says the manufacturers knew its drugs were potentially life-threatening and addictive, but convinced Hawaii doctors and patients otherwise.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 33,000 people nationwide died from opioid overdoses in 2015.

Locally, we’re told doctors are checking drug registries to make sure patients aren’t given repeated painkiller prescriptions.

But, Green says, more needs to be done. He says the companies have profited from patients abusing its pills without admitting their addictive nature, and wants to see them held accountable.

“These pills were sold to the medical community as safe and as non-addictive. A lot of medical community took that as an honest statement. Now we see they’re addictive and people take too much of them, and when they no longer get pills, they move to heroin,” said Green. “It’s wreaking havoc in our society and I think this is something our trusted attorney general can take up.”

We reached out to the attorney general for a response. Chin tells us he’s considering the possibility of suing the pharmaceutical companies, and will continue to meet with Gov. David Ige on the next step.

Green says if Hawaii joins the fight and wins against the pharmaceutical companies, he’d like to see the money go toward treatment.

Read Green’s letter in its entirety here.

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