Chief Sponsor: Michael K. McKell

Senate Sponsor: Jim Dabakis


10     General Description:
11           This joint resolution calls upon the attorney general to sue prescription opioid
12     manufacturers.
13     Highlighted Provisions:
14          This joint resolution:
15          ▸     describes serious allegations that have been raised regarding deceptive marketing
16     practices used by prescription opioid manufacturers to sell prescription opioids;
17          ▸     describes the effects of the prescription opioid crisis on the state and nation;
18          ▸     describes the impact of the opioid crisis on the state;
19          ▸     lists other states and Utah counties that have filed suit or committed to file suit
20     against prescription opioid manufacturers; and
21          ▸     calls upon the attorney general to sue prescription opioid manufacturers.
22     Special Clauses:
23          None

25     Be it resolved by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
26          WHEREAS, serious allegations have been raised that prescription opioid manufacturers
27     have systematically engaged in deceptive marketing practices and fraudulent coverups to

28     advance the sale of prescription opioids by:
29          (1) downplaying the serious risk of addiction;
30          (2) promoting the concept of "pseudoaddiction" and advocating that the signs of
31     addiction should be treated with more opioids;
32          (3) claiming that opioid dependence and withdrawal are easily managed; and
33          (4) denying the risks of higher opioid dosages;
34          WHEREAS, serious allegations have been raised that prescription opioid manufacturers
35     spread, and continue to spread, misinformation about the risks of their products:
36          (1) through false and deceptive direct marketing;
37          (2) by using a diverse group of seemingly independent third parties to spread false and
38     deceptive statements about the risks and benefits of opioids; and
39          (3) by using a diverse group of false organizations, that purport to be neutral,
40     independent, and trusted third parties, to publish false information regarding the risks and
41     benefits of opioids in order to deceive doctors and health care providers;
42          WHEREAS, this behavior occurred as the North American prescription opioid market
43     grow to a value of $12.4 billion in 2015 with an expected annual growth rate of 4.6%;
44          WHEREAS, prescription opioid manufacturers realized these profits as thousands of
45     individuals lost their lives, having fallen victim to prescription opioid addictions;
46          WHEREAS, 91 Americans die each day from opioid-related drug overdose deaths
47     according to the Centers for Disease Control;
48          WHEREAS, drug overdoses kill more Americans under age 50 than anything else;
49          WHEREAS, conservative estimates show that 500,000 people will die in the United
50     States over the next decade due to opioid overdose, which is more than HIV/AIDS has killed
51     since that epidemic began in the early 1980s;
52          WHEREAS, more people die each year from opioid overdoses than from drivers who
53     are under the influence of alcohol;
54          WHEREAS, Utah has the seventh-highest drug overdose rate in the United States;
55          WHEREAS, in 2015, one person died nearly every day from an opioid overdose in
56     Utah;
57          WHEREAS, according to the Department of Health, the rate of prescription opioids
58     dispensed in Utah from 2002 to 2015 grew by 29.4%, averaging nearly five opioid

59     prescriptions per patient in 2015;
60          WHEREAS, from 2000 to 2015, the state experienced a nearly 400% increase in deaths
61     from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs;
62          WHEREAS, drug overdoses kill more people in Utah than motor vehicle crashes;
63          WHEREAS, in 2014, 32% of Utah adults aged 18 years and older were prescribed an
64     opioid pain medication;
65          WHEREAS, the Council of Economic Advisers estimates that in 2015, the economic
66     cost of the opioid crisis was $504 billion, or 2.8% of the nation's gross domestic product that
67     year;
68          WHEREAS, the state and its political subdivisions' law enforcement, criminal justice,
69     drug treatment, and other social service programs have incurred enormous costs because of the
70     opioid crisis;
71          WHEREAS, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health
72     emergency in October 2017;
73          WHEREAS, 16 states have already filed suit against opioid manufacturers seeking
74     damages for the public cost of the opioid crisis: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky,
75     Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio,
76     Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Washington;
77          WHEREAS, dozens of local jurisdictions have also filed suit against opioid
78     manufactures; and
79          WHEREAS, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Washington, and Weber counties have
80     already announced plans to file suit against prescription opioid manufacturers because of:
81          (1) the highly evident costs of the opioid crisis to the state;
82          (2) opioid manufacturers' clear and reckless role in perpetuating the crisis;
83          (3) opioid manufacturers' apparent indifference toward the problems they are accused
84     of causing;
85          (4) the clear path other states have laid for Utah to follow; and
86          (5) consistent requests from civic and political leaders and the citizens of the state:
87          NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature calls upon the attorney
88     general to:
89          (1) immediately and publicly commit to directly filing suit against prescription opioid

90     manufacturers, instead of joining a suit with other plaintiffs, in order to seek the maximum
91     award for damages from prescription opioid manufacturers for the citizens of the state; and
92          (2) proceed with haste to file suit against prescription opioid manufacturers in order to
93     hold them accountable for the destruction and devastation they have inflicted upon the citizens
94     of the state.
95          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to the attorney
96     general immediately after the Legislature passes this resolution.

Legislative Review Note
Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel