Attorney General Brian Frosh Combats the Opioid Crisis

By Susan Olsen, Our Maryland, Our Voices Contributor 

Craig Wolf wants to be Maryland’s next attorney general; however, he does not seem to know the job description.  He is accusing incumbent Democrat Brian Frosh with not doing things that are not in the purview of the job description for our state’s attorney general.

Most of us are unlikely to know exactly what the attorney general is supposed to do. He is the chief legal advisor to state officials.  Here is a definition supplied on the website:

The attorney general is the chief legal advisor to state officials. The attorney general provides formal legal opinions to a state’s governor and other appointed or elected state officials on constitutional or legal matters. In some states, the attorney general provides informal legal opinions to local government officials upon their request.

These opinions can address the official’s duties or the legality of actions that the official wants to take. An attorney general’s opinion can also advise government officials on the constitutionality or legality of proposed legislation.

The attorney general is also the chief law enforcement officer.  His job is to ensure that state laws are interpreted correctly and enforced.

Attorney General Brian Frosh has served us well in so many respects that it is impossible to mention all of them in one commentary.  There is one issue; however, for which Craig Wolf has publicly criticized Frosh – Frosh’s handling of the opioid crisis. Wolf says that Frosh has not been going to sheriff’s meetings regarding the handling of the crisis, nor has he made trips to every county in the state to learn about the crisis.

The AG has been using many divisions of his office to address Maryland’s opioid crisis.  AG Frosh has worked with local, state and federal partners to lock up some of the most dangerous gang members and drug traffickers, including pill mill operators.  When he became Attorney General, he created the Organized Crime Division within the Criminal Division of his office. Since its creation, the division has indicted more than 100 individuals for distribution or conspiracy to distribute dangerous opioids including fentanyl and heroin.  

The Consumer Protection Division of his office recently filed charges against Insys Therapeudics, Inc., the maker of a potent opioid called Subsys, with multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act as well as relief for customers who had been victimized by the company.

The use of Subsys was limited to “breakthrough pain in adult cancer patients” by the FDA.  The FDA holds that this potent drug is inappropriate for use in patients who have other types of pain such as migraine headaches, back pain, or chronic pain syndrome.

According to the charging documents, Insys and local health care providers circumvented this limited approval and prescribed the drug to patients who never should have received it.  In fact, 90% of Subsys prescriptions written or filled in Maryland went to these “off-label” patients.

Insys created a scheme to cover up thousands of dollars in monetary inducements to prescribers by creating the “Insys Speaker Program.”  Prescribers received as much as $5,000 per event; however, there was a catch. Any prescriber who did not increase sales of Subsys by overprescribing it was taken off the speaker bureau list.

In addition, Insys encouraged inappropriate sexual or intimate relationships between its employees and prescribers as a means to increase sales by encouraging prescribers to write more prescriptions.

Attorney General Brian Frosh is using the resources of his office to help address the opioid crisis.   He understands the problem and has stated this on multiple occasions, publicly saying “Opioid addiction and overdose are destroying lives in every community across Maryland.”  His job includes setting limits on what big pharma is doing to exacerbate the opioid crisis in Maryland.

If Craig Wolf wants to be the next attorney general, he needs to find out what the job entails.

The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of Our Maryland or Our Maryland Education Fund.