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State Attorney General Sues Opioid Manufacturers

Lawsuit alleges opioid manufacturers engaged in deceptive marketing that fueled opioid epidemic.
Published Online: Jun 02,2017
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor
On Wednesday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers accusing the companies of false marketing. DeWine alleges that 5 leading manufacturers did not correctly disclose the risks and benefits of the drugs, according to a press release.
 
The lawsuit also attributes the opioid epidemic seen in Ohio to the manufacturers’ false claims about the safety of the drug.
 
"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 the press release.
 
Many individuals misuse prescription opioids and transition to heroin. Recently, heroin has been laced with dangerous, potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which has resulted in a surge of overdose-related deaths throughout the United States, according to the release.
 
Included in the lawsuit are Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan, according to the release. These companies sold both branded and generic opioids.
 
The lawsuit alleges that these manufacturers infringed upon the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a public nuisance by circulating misleading information about opioids, DeWine stated. The companies are accused of employing several methods to downplay the risks and over exaggerate the benefits of certain drugs.
 
“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" DeWine said.
 
DeWine believes that these practices increased the number of opioid prescriptions and fueled the state’s opioid epidemic.
 
The lawsuit seeks for these companies to take the blame for their actions and claim that they engaged in illegal activity by false advertising. Additionally, DeWine is seeking an injunction to bar the companies from misrepresenting the drugs, as well as collecting damages for spending on opioids made by the state and patients with chronic pain, according to the release.
 
"They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway -- and they continue to do it,” DeWine concluded. “Despite all evidence to the contrary about the addictive nature of these pain medications, they are doing precious little to take responsibility for their actions and to tell the public the truth."
 
Throughout the United States, opioids have caused countless overdoses and deaths. Thus far, many states have implemented methods to control the opioid prescriptions to prevent misuse; however, in some cases the drugs are necessary and can provide a clinical benefit.