We thank Attorney General Leevin Camacho's office for shedding light on certain prescription pain medication that has become a path to drug abuse for many on Guam.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the attorney general's office took on Purdue Pharma and its related business entities.
The lawsuit filed by the AG's office in the Superior Court of Guam alleges some of Purdue Pharma’s prescription medication for pain has been falsely marketed and sold.
It accuses the pharmaceutical company of violating Guam's consumer protection law, alleging, in part, the defendants have been "engaging in false, misleading or deceptive acts or practices in violation of the 5 GCA S32201(a)." The lawsuit says the defendants developed drugs such as OxyContin "and marketed them as safe and effective for the management of minor types of pain."
While the decision on the lawsuit will be in the hands of a jury, and Purdue Pharma is presumed innocent until otherwise proven in court, the AG's filing of the lawsuit alone has provided statistics and information that are an eye-opener for many in our small community.
Guam has an opioid problem, the AG's office stated, but it's not as well-known as the other drug problems on the island, primarily involving methamphetamine.
From 2018 to the filing of the lawsuit Tuesday, the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority has dispensed nearly 200 doses of Naloxone, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, the AG's office stated.
From January 2019 through July 2019 GMHA dispensed 15,161 doses of opioids and administered 58 Naloxone doses as a means to counteract opioid overdoses, the lawsuit states.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services has reported that more than 97,000 opioid prescriptions were dispensed between 2015 and 2019 on Guam.
The Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center has provided care to residents going through opioid addiction.
The AG's pursuit of this issue via the Guam Consumer Protection Act is a new approach and it deserves to be commended.
We need more health-related agencies and public safety agencies to share with the public any statistics and other information that will help our community grasp the gravity of this issue. We also need to learn more about how and where to seek help for loved ones whose lives are already being devastated by the opioid problem.
We need to be empowered with more information before it's too late.