Ohio blames drugmakers for fueling opioid crisis

Chris Stewart  Chris Stewart

It was filed in Ross County, which DeWine called "likely the hardest hit area in the nation by the opioid epidemic".

The state of OH sued five pharmaceutical manufacturers Wednesday, arguing the companies fraudulently marketed addictive prescription painkillers and seeking hundreds of millions of dollars to address Ohio's opioid crisis.

The five companies named in Wednesday's suit were Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical and Cephalon its subsidiary, Endo Health Solutions, Allergan and Johnson & Johnson with Janssen Pharmaceuticals its subsidiary.

In an interview, Mr. DeWine said Ohio's lawsuit is among the most comprehensive taken by any state against opioid-painkiller makers.

"These drug companies knew that what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway", DeWine said.

DeWine said the evidence shows the companies "put profits above health and well-being of OH consumers" who are "addicted to opioid pain medications".

Teva said in an e-mailed statement that the company "is committed to the appropriate promotion and use of opioids" and has "programs in place that educate prescribers, pharmacists, and patients to the responsible and safe use of these products". Many people became addicted by taking powerful opioid painkillers, and often then turned to heroin if they couldn't get access to pills.

The lawsuit accused the companies of being involved in a sustained marketing campaign to undermine the risks of the prescription opioid drugs and exaggerate the benefits of the drugs in treating health problems.

Ohio blames drugmakers for fueling opioid crisis

"B$3 y the late 1990s, and continuing today, each Defendant began a marketing scheme created to persuade doctors and patients that opioids can and should be used for chronic pain, a far broader group of patients much more likely to become addicted and suffer other adverse effects from the long-term use of opioids", the lawsuit states. And Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports for our Newscast unit that Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths in 2014 and 2015.

SIEGEL: That's Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who's bringing a suit against five pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of helping to fuel the opioid crisis in his state. He says while the lawsuit might have some positive effects in the long term, defeating the crisis will not only require state dollars but also support from community organizations and churches.

Endo Health Solutions declined to provide a comment to ABC News, citing a company policy not to comment on current and ongoing litigation.

Although a number of other states have gone after manufacturers and distributors to some degree, Mr. DeWine is just the second state attorney general, following Mississippi's, to file such a suit.

DeWine wants an injunction stopping the companies from their alleged misconduct and damages for money the state spent on opiates sold and marketed in Ohio.

Earlier this month, two Democratic candidates for governor, Sen.

The suit also targets the drug companies marketing opioids to doctors. The other company didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

In 2015, Kentucky settled a similar lawsuit with Purdue Pharma.

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