U.S. President Donald Trump touted progress in the fight against opioid abuse on Wednesday and promised to hold drugmakers accountable for their part in the crisis, a day after his administration brought its first related criminal charges against a major drug distributor and company executives.
America’s opioid epidemic, especially damaging in rural areas where Trump is popular, has been a focus for the Republican president.
On Tuesday, the government charged drug distributor Rochester Drug Co-operative Inc and company executives for their role in fueling the epidemic.
The company agreed to pay $20 million and enter a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve charges it turned a blind eye to thousands of suspicious orders for opioid pain killers.
“We are holding big Pharma accountable,” Trump said at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.
Deaths from opioid overdose in the United States jumped 17 percent in 2017 from a year earlier to more than 49,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.