Coalition supports stricter opioid manufacturers penalties

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson led a bipartisan coalition of 39 state and territorial attorneys general to call on Congressional leaders to promptly pass measures to help hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic and stem diversion.

“Opioid manufacturers can play a vital role in helping to combat the opioid epidemic, but too often they are disregarding important signs of illicit activity,” Attorney General DeWine. “Cracking down on negligent reporting will benefit all of us by keeping more of these drugs off our streets.”

The coalition sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Judiciary Committee, the committees of jurisdiction, urging them to pass the S.2456, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 introduced by Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and S.2440, the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act.

Opioid manufacturers have a duty to ensure that they take steps to prevent drugs from entering the illicit market. Among other provisions, CARA 2.0 and the CARES Act increase penalties on drug manufactures that fail to report suspicious transactions and maintain effective controls against diversion of their drugs to the illicit market. The bills would increase the civil penalty from $10,000 to $100,000 per violation for negligence in reporting suspicious activity and double the criminal penalty to $500,000 for companies that willfully disregard or knowingly fail to keep proper reporting systems or fail to report suspicious activity.

“Diversion of prescription opioids has devastated communities in our states. The consequences of turning a blind eye to suspicious opioid order cannot merely be a cost of doing business,” the attorneys general wrote in their letter.

In addition to Ohio and Washington, the letter to was signed by the attorneys general of Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virgin Islands, and Virginia.

A copy of the letter can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website More information on CARA 2.0 and the CARES Act on