AG Kaul hopes money from pharmaceutical lawsuit can generate funding for opioid addiction treatment, preventionSubmitted: 06/25/2019
Story By Lane Kimble

AG Kaul hopes money from pharmaceutical lawsuit can generate funding for opioid addiction treatment, prevention
WAUSAU - Wisconsin's attorney general knows people need to take responsibility for preventing opioid addictions, but he also believes drug manufacturers share in that responsibility.

Josh Kaul told Newswatch 12 during a stop in Wausau Tuesday that he believes one of the best ways to get those people help is through suing drug manufacturers.

Wisconsin sued Purdue Pharma and the company's former president in state court last month.  Kaul says the company misled people by "overstating" the benefits and downplaying the harm opioid prescriptions can produce.  

He thinks money from a lawsuit could generate more informational and treatment programs for addicts, calling opioid and meth abuse the "most significant public safety issue" Wisconsin faces.

"[We need to let] people know that even if they're taking something that's prescribed by a doctor, they can still become addicted and they need to make sure they're using the medication appropriately," Kaul said.

Kaul admitted other drugs, such as Fentanyl, have become more prevalent in Wisconsin since the state started cracking down on methamphetamines, but it can't stop the fight.

"When you enforce the laws that relate to one particular narcotic, it's true that other dangerous ones can pop up, but we need to make sure that our enforcement efforts are targeting the most serious and most dangerous drugs," Kaul said.

More than 900 people died from opioid overdoses in Wisconsin in 2017.

Kaul thinks a different drug, just made legal Tuesday in Illinois, could help cut back on addictions. Illinois' governor signed a bill into law legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana.

Wisconsin likely won't take that same step in 2019, but the attorney general would like to see the state legalize the medicinal version.

Kaul thinks people facing serious pain issues would benefit from medical marijuana. Wisconsin would join 33 other states and the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana.

"I think we could use the money that we raise as a state from the sale of medical marijuana to help address some of these problems like the opioid epidemic and meth addiction," Kaul said.

Kaul says recreational marijuana should be debated if and when medical marijuana becomes legal.

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