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Sean D. Reyes
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Behind the Badge Features AAG Shelley Coudreaut

Don Hudson of ABC4 featured the Shelley Coudreaut, Section Director in the Justice Division and part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force on last Friday’s Behind the Badge.

 

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children. The Utah Attorney General (UAG) ICAC Task Force was created in 2000 and is now one of 61 ICAC task forces in the country. They focus on crimes related to sexual exploitation of a minor – whether possessing, distributing, or manufacturing child pornography, enticing minors over the internet, or exchanging material deemed harmful to minors. The UAG ICAC Task Force has 32 local, state, and federal police agencies involved in the task force.

You can learn more about ICAC and how to keep your family safe, check out the ICAC Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/justice/internet-crimes-against-children-icac-task-force.

 

 


Utah Opioid Task Force

The Utah Opioid Task Force held its quarterly meeting on June 1, hearing reports on past actions as well as plans for future events and ideas in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic. Co-Chairs Attorney General Sean Reyes and DEA District Agent Brian Besser led the meeting, joined by Speaker Greg Hughes, USDA State Director for Rural Development Randy Parker, and representatives from Co-Chair Senator Mike Lee’s office.

AG Reyes opened with an update on the recently filed lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Filed in Carbon County, the lawsuit also leaves room to add other plaintiffs later, if needed.

District Agent in Charge Brian Besser provided an update on Utah Take Back program, which encourages Utahns to turn in unused prescription drugs to avoid them falling into the wrong hands. Currently, federal regulations only allow Take Back boxes in law enforcement offices. However, there is an effort to allow collection boxes in pharmacies to provide more opportunities for people to get rid of their drugs instead of burning or trashing them. This effort is particularly important for rural areas, which have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.

Randy Parker, State Director for Rural Development USDA, informed the Task Force about the work of the Rural Opioid Task Force and the involvement of the USDA. Last year, the USDA invested nearly $500 million in the rural community and is actively involved in making our rural communities better. The “Farm Town Strong Road Show”  is a USDA mechanism to assist local farm bureaus in engaging rural people in open and honest discussions regarding opioid abuse. Currently, the Director Randy Parker and Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney, the Chairs of the Rural Outreach Subcommittee, are working with county commissioners to get these road shows set up throughout the state.

Upcoming meetings will also focus on legislation as legislators, lawyers, and medical professionals look at ways of implanting safeguards to help protect Utah citizens. Representative Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) will be sponsoring a number of bills regarding opioids. 

TAKE NOTE:
A major effort of the Task Force is the upcoming summit on opioids. The “Live Connected: Opioid Solutions Summit” is scheduled for October 12 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. If you are interested in supporting the summit or being involved, please email Dan Burton at danburton@agutah.gov.

 

The Utah Opioid Task Force works in collaboration with groups nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. The Utah Opioid Task Force includes leaders from government, law enforcement, and the medical and recovery community, as well as other concerned and interested individuals from across the State.

 


Utah Announces Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma

UTAH ANNOUNCES MAJOR LAWSUIT AGAINST OPIOID MANUFACTURER PURDUE PHARMA
Lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and damages for negligence, fraud, and misleading marketing practices by OxyContin producer

SALT LAKE CITY – At a press conference today, Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that the State of Utah filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for violating state law, including the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), involving the company’s prescription opioids, including OxyContin. AG Reyes was joined in the announcement by Francine Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce, members of the Utah Legislature, Utah Opioid Task Force, and elected officials.

You can watch the entire press conference here: https://www.facebook.com/UtahAttorneyGeneral/videos/2194855960530734/

The complaint was filed in Carbon County, Utah, a rural community with a rich history and diversity that makes it representative of small towns throughout America. Rural communities have been disproportionately impacted by the scourge of opioid addiction and death by overdose, and Carbon County is among the most vulnerable and hardest hit in America.

The lawsuit seeks significant penalties from the company for its illegal conduct and injunctive relief to prevent future harm to Utah. The allegations against Purdue include:

  • Misrepresentation or failure to disclose the risk of addiction of opioids;
  • Misrepresenting that there was no “ceiling dose”– falsely claiming that doctors and patients could increase opioid dosages indefinitely without risk;
  • Making false, unsubstantiated representations about “pseudoaddiction,” and falsely representing to doctors that common signs of addiction in patients are actually signs that the patient needs a higher dose of opioid.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, “Today, Utah takes a big step forward in holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for the devastation caused in Utah through their deceptive marketing of opioids. The lawsuit explains how Purdue Pharma misled physicians to overprescribe and patients to over-use opioids by minimizing the risk of addiction. Their campaign of misinformation has contributed to thousands of deaths and untold heartache in Utah and across the county.”

“Purdue Pharma manufactured one of the deadliest combinations in the history of our nation—OxyContin and lies,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. He continued, “That lethal cocktail has led to a national public health crisis of epic proportions. In 2016, alone, more people died from opioid-related deaths than from breast cancer. These fatalities accounted for 66% of our 63,000 drug overdose deaths, more than all Americans lost in the Vietnam War. Purdue fueled Utah’s opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers despite knowing their products were highly addictive and dangerous and were being abused, crushed, snorted and stolen from pharmacies and medicine cabinets. While Purdue’s executives got rich, Utah was plunged into a national public health crisis. 

“The opioid crisis has taken its toll on far too many families where six Utahns are dying every week from prescription opioid overdoses,” said Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce.  “The Department of Commerce actively serves on the Executive Council on this issue and will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to seek legal restitution from this industry. The drug companies need to answer for their role in this growing health epidemic.”

By filing this lawsuit, Utah builds on the momentum of the aggressive multi-state investigation. Attorney General Reyes and a bipartisan group of over 40 other s