NAGTRI Prescription Opioid Projects

Joanne Thomka, NAGTRI Program Counsel

In 2004, the attorneys general of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, led by the Oregon attorney general, settled litigation with Warner-Lambert Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc. The litigation related to allegations that Warner-Lambert conducted an unlawful marketing campaign for the drug, Neurontin.

As part of the Settlement Agreement, the attorneys general received funds for a Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program in the amount of $21 million. A special committee was created by state attorneys general to approve individual grants to support this program. The Oregon Department of Justice was then designated to receive the funds and enter into grant contracts to implement grants approved by the special committee. All grants awarded were to involve projects relating to prescriber and consumer education regarding drug information, drug marketing, and the conditions for which drugs are prescribed.

In July 2015, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) received a grant totaling $2.1 million to implement several projects in accordance with the grant program. Through its National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI), NAAG is developing projects that specifically address prescription opioids. These projects are designed to assist attorneys general in their efforts to use evidence-based approaches to reducing opioid use and abuse in their states.

The anticipated NAGTRI projects are as follows:

  • A multi-day conference in partnership with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). This conference will have panel discussions and breakout sessions pertaining to drug trends, drug marketing, consumer education, and the prescribing practices of opioids. After the conference, a best-practices publication will be prepared which will highlight the best-evidence practices discussed throughout the conference. The conference will be held this fall in Washington, D.C.
  • A sponsored panel presentation at the National RX Drug Abuse Summit which is hosted by Operation UNITE, a Kentucky-based non-profit that works to decrease illegal drug use through education, community empowerment, and the efforts of law enforcement. The panel will focus on the best practices for prescribing extended release long-acting opioids, effective communication with patients, prescription drug monitoring programs, and ways for prescribers to collaborate with attorneys general to address concerns in their jurisdictions. The conference is scheduled for March 28 – 31, 2016, in Atlanta, Ga.
  • Conducting Opioid Abuse Consumer Protection and Enforcement trainings. These training courses are designed for attorneys general legal staff, investigators, consumer advocates, and other allied professionals. They will provide an overview of issues relating to prescription opioid abuse including education and prevention, tracking and monitoring, enforcement, and treatment. The trainings will be delivered as two national courses and three state-level courses each year for a period of five years. At press time, trainings were scheduled for March 16 – 17, 2016 in New Orleans, La., and on June 16 - 17, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Development of an advertising toolkit that can be used by the attorney general community to educate their constituents about the drug disposal options in their areas, including the environmental hazards of improper disposal. This toolkit will be able to be adapted and branded by each attorney general office. The materials will be available this summer.
  • Development of an advertising toolkit with materials designed to educate consumers about informed decision-making regarding use of prescription opioids, prescription drug abuse, medication safety, generic prescriptions, and questions consumers may want to ask their physicians about prescription opioids. These educational materials will be developed as leaflets, community presentations and web-based content. All materials will be able to be adapted and branded by each attorney general office, and will be available this summer.
  • Offering an updated report on state and federal criminal charges brought against doctors as a result of their prescribing of controlled substances from 2006 to the present. The final research report will be published in spring 2017.

For more information about these NAGTRI projects, please contact Joanne Thomka, NAGTRI program counsel, at jthomka@naag.org or 202-326-6269.

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