Noting that opioid distributors will not receive a “free pass” from his office, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) Tuesday issued civil investigative demands to three opioid distributors.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley briefs the Capitol Press Corps on October 31, 2017 in Jefferson City (Brian Hauswirth photo)

Those are essentially subpoenas.

“My office has issued investigative subpoenas to the three largest distributors of opioids in the United States: the Amerisouth Bergen Corporation, Cardinal Health Incorporated and the McKesson Corporation,” Hawley says.

Hawley tells the Capitol Press Corps those three companies will have to provide all documents relating to his office’s ongoing investigation into the pharmaceutical industry’s involvement in the opioid epidemic.

Hawley says the opioid crisis is “fueled by corporate misconduct.”

“The evidence suggests that these companies chose to look the other way over supply pharmacies and other outlets and make millions of dollars in profits,” says Hawley. “Well not anymore. Today, my office is stepping in.”

Hawley says 500 Missourians died from opioid overdoes or complications in 2015.

Hawley spoke to reporters during a 20-minute press conference at the Missouri Supreme Court building in Jefferson City.

He says this is a crisis “that hits us in the most human of terms.”

“I know people who are struggling with an opioid addiction or have had an opioid addiction,” Hawley says. “I have talked to parents who have lost children, teenage children who maybe got started on opioid after a sports injury or after what appeared to be a routine surgery. I’ve talked to folks who have lost spouses.”

Hawley is also calling on Missouri lawmakers to pass prescription drug monitoring program legislation (PDMP).

Hawley is running for the U.S. Senate.

If he wins the GOP nomination, he would face U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in 2018.

Senator McCaskill, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, launched an investigation into opioid manufacturers and distributors earlier this year. Likewise, Hawley’s investigation began in June with lawsuits against three opioid manufacturers.

Hawley and McCaskill have similar PDMP positions.

In July, McCaskill urged Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) to call a special session to consider PDMP legislation.