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States expand investigation of opioid makers, distributors

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WASHINGTON — Attorneys general from most states are broadening their investigation into the opioid industry as a nationwide overdose crisis continues to claim thousands of lives.

They announced Tuesday that they had served subpoenas requesting information from five companies that make powerful prescription painkillers and three distributors. Forty-one attorneys general are involved.

The investigation into marketing and sales practices seeks to find out whether the industry’s own actions worsened the epidemic.

If the industry cooperates, the investigation could lead to a national settlement.

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance said in a statement that it’s not responsible for the volume of opioid prescribing but that it does want to work on solving the public health crisis.

Dozens of local and state governments have already filed, announced or publicly considered lawsuits against drugmakers or distributors.