President asks Justice Dept. to sue opioid manufacturers

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

President Donald Trump has asked the Justice Department to take pharmaceutical firms to court over their production of powerful painkillers.

He directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to file a lawsuit against certain drug companies that make and supply opioids. The president is also asking Sessions to monitor opioids coming into the U.S. from China and Mexico. 

Here on Long Island, a record number of people died last year due to overdoses.

Steve Chassman, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says it's time to crack down on drugmakers.

"There needs to be accountability to U.S. pharmaceutical companies who have flooded our markets and in some cases even misled prescribers about the lethality and the addictive properties of some of these medications," he says.

But Dr. Diana Martins-Welch, a doctor of palliative medicine at Northwell Health, says this is not the answer -- at least not for her patients. 

"I have a lot of patients who depend on opioids to get through the day," she says.

Dr. Martins-Welch treats patients with chronic pain and cancer-related pain who come to her with the goal of improving their quality of life. Federal action against opioid makers could have unintended consequences, she says.

"It may actually have an adverse consequence of leading people to obtain it in illicit ways," she says.

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