Trump urges Sessions to bring federal suit against opioid makers

Trump urges Sessions to bring federal suit against opioid makers
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE on Thursday urged Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump says he hasn't spoken to Barr about Mueller report Ex-Trump aide: Can’t imagine Mueller not giving House a ‘roadmap’ to impeachment Rosenstein: My time at DOJ is 'coming to an end' MORE to bring a federal lawsuit against drug companies that produce opioids.  

Speaking during a Cabinet meeting, the president also asked his embattled attorney general to look at opioid drugs coming into the country from China and Mexico, saying those countries were “sending their garbage and killing our people.”

“It’s almost a form of warfare,” Trump told Sessions. 

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When the attorney general agreed, the president responded: “I’d be very, very firm on that. It’s a disgrace, and we can stop it.” 

Several states have already filed lawsuits, which the Justice Department has backed, against drug companies that manufacture opioid painkillers.

But to date, much of the legal action has come against domestic manufacturers and distributors, rather than foreign countries.

A separate federal suit would escalate the government's efforts to combat the drugs and risk a tense standoff with major pharmaceutical companies.

Trump's relationship with drug companies is already contentious, as he has repeatedly attacked the industry over high drug prices. The administration is in the process of instituting drug price reforms.

Opioid makers and distributors have been hit with hundreds of lawsuits by states, counties and cities accusing them of using deceptive marketing to sell painkillers.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of OxyContin, is facing lawsuits in 27 states for its alleged role in the opioid crisis.

Nearly 49,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The exchange between Trump and Sessions was made more remarkable due to the strained relationship between the two over the Russia investigation.

The president tweeted just last week that his own attorney general was "scared stiff" due to his unwillingness to step in to stop the probe, which is examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow's election interference efforts in 2016.

Trump consistently lashed out at Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from the probe.

Updated at 1:09 p.m.