Trump To Jeff Sessions: Sue Drug Companies For Opioid Crisis Role

By Beth Leipholtz 08/24/18

The U.S. Attorney General said he would take action on Trump’s requests. 

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has instructed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to file a federal lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, and to go after sources of opioids in Mexico and China, claiming that they have played a role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.

Last week, according to the New York Post, the president heaped blame on China and Mexico for their alleged roles in the fueling the opioid epidemic, claiming the countries had manufactured some of the illegal opioids coming into the United States.

"In China, you have some pretty big companies sending that garbage and killing our people. It's almost like a form of warfare. I'd like you to do what you can legally," Trump said to Sessions.

Fox News reports that Trump’s remarks came during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday (August 16).

Trump also demanded that Sessions file a new “major” lawsuit against drug companies, rather than asking Sessions to join existing lawsuits filed by various U.S. states. 

"I'd also like to ask you to bring a major lawsuit against the drug companies on opioids,” Trump stated at the meeting, according to Fox. “Some states have done it, but I'd like a lawsuit to be brought against these companies that are really sending opioids at a level that—it really shouldn't be happening... People go into a hospital with a broken arm, they come out, they're a drug addict."

Sessions said he would take action on Trump’s requests. 

"We absolutely will," Sessions said at the meeting. "We are returning indictments now against distributors from China; we've identified certain companies that are moving drugs from China, fentanyl in particular. We have confronted China about it... Most of it is going to Mexico and then crossing the border, unlawfully, from Mexico."

As of June, more than 600 state, county and city governments have filed opioid-related lawsuits against drug companies, doctors and hospitals, according to Consumer Safety.

Last week, New York filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, stating that the OxyContin manufacturer has misled medical professionals and patients about the potential risks of the medication. Massachusetts also filed a lawsuit against the company in June, accusing the company of a “web of illegal deceit.” 

According to recent estimates, overall overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017 were about 72,000—an increase of 6,000 from 2016’s estimates.

However, preliminary 2018 data implies that the “numbers may be trending downward in the wake of the Trump administration's efforts to curb the epidemic,” according to Fox.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.