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UCSF Archives Blog Post: AG State Perspective: Exposing the Truth


This article was published today on the University of California San Francisco Archives Blog at:

Today’s release of more than a million documents from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the nation’s most prolific opioid marketers, is an important step in exposing the truth and preventing a man-made crisis like the opioid epidemic from happening again.

Pharmaceutical companies profited from the sale of dangerous prescription opioids, and Americans became the heaviest users of opioids in the world. Communities across our country have suffered the consequences: addiction, overdose and death.

The families most affected by the crisis have led the way in advocating for justice. Parents whose own children have died in the opioid crisis have dedicated years of their lives to protecting others. They demanded that offenders be held accountable, broken systems be reformed, and urgent investments be made in harm reduction, treatment, recovery and prevention.

Attorneys General have heard the calls to action and have acted. Working together, across party lines and across the country, our teams conducted a thorough investigation into illegal behavior in the opioid industry. We have filed lawsuits and won verdicts from judges and juries, forcing companies to pay tens of billions of dollars that will be spent on resolving the crisis.

An essential part of justice is to expose the truth. Our teams have searched for this truth for years. Our efforts have resulted in the public disclosure of millions of crucial documents and facts revealed by witnesses ranging from drug sellers to corporate presidents.

We rejected the companies’ attempts to keep the evidence sealed or turn it over to the perpetrators. Instead, we posted it online.

For the first time in a generation, since the landmark tobacco cases, the secrets of an industry are revealed to the public. Under orders from courts across the country, millions of opioid industry documents will be released in a free public archive, in perpetuity.

Families who have suffered through this crisis will be able to see for themselves the evidence we have uncovered – the company emails, board minutes and business plans that have changed so many lives.

Journalists, filmmakers, artists and scholars will tell the story of this epidemic using the real words and actions of the people who led the opioid trade.

Decision makers across the country will be told what went wrong.

Leaders, managers and employees in every industry will know that if they break the law and put the public at risk, the whole world can see what they have done.

Today is a step towards justice. We are grateful to the advocates who demanded action in the face of a devastating crisis, to our staff who work every day to serve the public, and to the archivists at the University of California and Johns Hopkins who will preserve this evidence for the public good. .

Guest article by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, New York Attorney General Letitia James, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Attorney General of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares.

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