By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Marlborough – Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey was the guest speaker at the Corridor Nine/495 Regional Chamber of Conference Business Females Forward (BFF) monthly luncheon Feb. 12. Nearly 180 women attended the meeting which was held at the Courtyard by Marriott Boston Marlborough.
In a wide ranging presentation, Healey discussed numerous topics that she works on as the head of “the the people’s law firm.”
Her office is very concerned, she said, with the increasing number of students who graduate from college heavily in debt. As such, she has established a unit that will help those are struggling to repay their loans and who may have been victims of predatory companies and institutions.
“It’s imperative that we help these people. We can’t secure our economic future if so many families are in debt [from student loans],” she said.
One of the most critical issues she is concerned with is the opioid epidemic.
“So many families are profoundly affected by this epidemic,” Healey said, adding that “we first started seeing problems with heroin, but now are seeing increases of fentanyl.”
Healey said her office has also set up a strike force to “hold accountable those who got us to this point,” noting her office had sued Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma Inc. for their part in the crisis.
(Last June, Healey’s office sued Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma Inc. “for misleading prescribers and consumers about the addiction and health risks of their opioids, including OxyContin, to get more people to take these drugs, at higher and more dangerous doses, and for longer periods of time to increase the companies’ profits.” And in October, her office, in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Justice, was awarded a “nearly $3 million grant to expand its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and disrupt and dismantle drug and fentanyl trafficking throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” according to www.mass.gov.)
Healey noted that it was important to increase efforts to educate schoolchildren on the dangers of opioids.
“We need to stop this before it starts,” she stressed. “There needs to be a K-12 curriculum on this in every school.”
In 2017, Healey’s office, along with the GE Foundation and the Herren Project, partnered on an initiative, “Project Here,” which is geared toward helping middle school students with social-emotional learning and making healthy decisions.
She also noted that her office has been concerned with the increasing cases of people becoming addicted to e-cigarettes and vaping.
“Parents really need to be aware of this problem,” she said. “So many kids are becoming addicted to these.”
Of companies efforts to entice teens with flavored Juul pods, she noted that it was a “replication of what big tobacco did years ago.” Her office has sent cease and desist orders to several companies that have inadequate age verification systems in place.
Healey also beseeched the women in attendance at the Feb. 12 meeting to become involved in civic affairs, whether they run for office themselves or support candidates.
“It’s so important to our democracy, “she said. “I don’t care about your political opinions – just become more informed about the issues.”
For more information on services offered through her office, visit www.mass.gov/orgs/office-of-attorney-general-maura-healey; call 617-727-8400 to speak to a consumer specialist; call the Worcester office at 508-792-7600; or email [email protected].