Ohio attorney general sues 5 pharmaceutical companies over opioid epidemic

The Ohio attorney general has filed a lawsuit against five leading prescription opioid manufacturers, alleging that the companies intentionally misled patients regarding the risks and benefits of opioid use with fraudulent marketing.

Attorney General Mike DeWine accused the companies of leading patients to believe that opioids were not addictive, which the lawsuit says fueled the current opioid epidemic in Ohio.

“We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans — our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our kids — addicted to opioid pain medications, which has all too often led to use of the cheaper alternatives of heroin and synthetic opioids,” DeWine said in a statement. “These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids.”

The five manufacturers listed in the lawsuit, filed in the Ross County Court of Common Pleas, are Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.

The lawsuit was filed in Ross County since Southern Ohio was the area hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic, the press release states. A record of 3,050 people in Ohio died from drug overdose in 2015, The Associated Press reported. That figure is expected to rise significantly once the 2016 figures have been tallied, according to the AP.

The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a “public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids.”

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A bottle of Purdue Pharma L.P. OxyContin medication sits on a pharmacy shelf in Provo, Utah, Aug. 31, 2016.

The “false marketing” allegedly included advertising in medical…

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