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The Nebraska Attorney General's office said Thursday it is joining a multi-state, bipartisan investigation probing whether opioid manufacturers' sales and marketing practices broke the law.

Attorney General Doug Peterson and attorneys general from a majority of states are looking into whether the makers of these potent painkillers may have played a role in creating or prolonging the epidemic of fatal overdoses from the drugs, his office said in a news release.

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are the main culprit in drug overdose deaths in Nebraska and nationwide, a spokeswoman said in a news release.

In 2015, the drugs were involved in 33,091 deaths nationwide, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"The expanding abuse of opioid painkillers is both a national and statewide concern," Peterson said.

The targets of coalition's investigation are not being publicly identified at this time.

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Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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