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House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers over role in crisis

The top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is reopening an investigation into three drug companies that make opioids over their role in the epidemic of overdose deaths. 

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), along with Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), sent letters on Tuesday to the companies with new questions about whether they could have done more earlier to stem the tide of opioid-related deaths. 

The lawmakers wrote to Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics, following up on letters sent in August 2018 and requesting more information.

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The new letter to Purdue presses the company, the maker of OxyContin, which helped drive the epidemic, about evidence that it knew about the drug being abused as early as 1997. 

The lawmakers also asked Mallinckrodt about a company official’s comments in a deposition that she alerted management in 2008 that its suspicious-order-monitoring system was faulty. 

“We write today to reactivate the investigation started on August 2, 2018, that examined potential breakdowns in the controlled substances supply chain, which may have contributed to the nation’s opioid epidemic, and the role of certain opioid manufacturers in such potential breakdowns,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Mallinckrodt said in a statement that it is “reviewing the letter” and will “work diligently to answer questions from Members of Congress.”

“Mallinckrodt and its leadership have for years been the leader in developing and executing a comprehensive approach to preventing prescription drug diversion, misuse and abuse,” the company said.

Congress passed a collection of bipartisan bills in 2018 aimed at fighting the opioid crisis, though advocates have continued pressing for more funding and further action to reduce overdose deaths. 

This story was updated at 12:47 p.m.

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