Ohio attorney general sues 5 drugmakers over opiate crisis

Jun 02, 2017, 01:51
Ohio attorney general sues 5 drugmakers over opiate crisis

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit Wednesday against at least five pharmaceutical companies considered central to the opioid epidemic now sweeping across the U.S. The filing is not the first legal action against painkiller manufacturers, but its inclusion of five large drug manufacturers makes it one of the most sweeping.

After seeing drug overdoses become the state's leading cause of accidental deaths, officials in OH have had enough. It did provide examples of the cost of opioid addiction.

Is it the contention of the plaintiff in this case that companies actually wanted people to become addicted to prescription pain killers?

"It never went away". A woman who lost her daughter to opiate addiction appeared with DeWine today, explaining to reporters how powerless she and millions of Americans feel against this public health crisis. She was six months pregnant.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is placing blame on drug manufacturers for Ohio's opioid addiction problem.

"Between 2011 and 2015, 3.8 billion doses of this medication were prescribed just to Ohioans". He notes almost a fifth of the state's population was prescribed opioids in 2016. "That's roughly one-fifths of our state's population".

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DeWine claims that the drug makers downplayed the difficulty in managing opioid dependence and withdrawal to "make doctors feel more comfortable starting patients on opioids".

"Like the tobacco companies, defendants used third parties that they funded, directed, and controlled to carry out and hide their scheme to deceive doctors and patients about the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use for chronic pain", DeWine states in the lawsuit. He's asking for a jury trial.

He's also promoting education as early as kindergarten and asking OH church leaders for help.

"This lawsuit is about justice, it's about fairness, it's about what is right", DeWine said in announcing the suit, which was filed in civil court in Ross County. "The people who played a significant role in creating this mess in the state of OH should pay to clean it up".

OH isn't the first state to sue drug companies over the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Earlier this year, Anthony Bourdain spoke to GQ about the opioid crisis in America and the pharmaceutical industry's role in exacerbating it, saying the drug companies were "knowingly selling narcotics far and above any reasonable or acceptable level of need".

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"You know I think it's too little, too late".

A copy of the lawsuit is available on the Ohio Attorney General's website.

Purdue and Johnson & Johnson also have lawsuits against them by two California counties, the city of Chicago, four counties in NY and the state of MS due to their opioid marketing practices.

Drug-related overdoses surpassed vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the state in 2017.

OR reached a settlement in 2015 with opioid painkiller manufacturer Insys for off-label promotion of Subsys, a fentanyl spray more powerful than heroin.

A number of other states, cities and even the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma have sued drug companies for selling and distributing amounts of addictive drugs they argue far exceed the medical needs of patients.

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A Janssen statement called the lawsuit legally and factually unfounded and said the company has acted appropriately and responsibly.

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