COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a lawsuit against five prescription drug companies – claiming their “fraudulent marketing” tactics have fueled the state’s opioid epidemic.
DeWine said the evidence will show that the drug companies got thousands of Ohioans addicted to opioid pain medications and they should be held accountable for the “undeniable harm” they’ve inflicted on Ohio families.
“This lawsuit is about justice. It’s about fairness. It’s about what is right,” DeWine told reporters gathered at his East Broad Street office in Columbus.
“It is just and it is right that the people who played a significant role in creating this mess in the state of Ohio, should pay to clean it up.”
Five pharmaceutical manufacturers are listed as defendants – including the makers of OxyCotin and Percocet.
The lawsuit claims the drug companies disseminated “false and misleading statements” to prescribers – downplaying the risks of prescription opioids and inflating the benefits.
“And they did it on all fronts,” DeWine said.
“They did it in medical journals with ads, they did it with their reps, they did it by creating these groups out there – where they funded them – that were supposedly neutral, supposedly impartial.”
DeWine said: “They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway” – resulting in many becoming addicted to prescription pain medications, which “all too often” has led to the use of cheaper alternatives like heroin and synthetic opioids.
He said the companies of deceptively marketed their drugs, fueling “the state’s worst public health crisis”.
“I have seen the devastation this epidemic is wrecking on our state,” DeWine said.
“It is a human tragedy of epic proportion, ripping families apart, tearing at the fabrics of our communities, and holding our state back. And tragically, the death waves of this tsunami have not yet crested.”
The lawsuit is seeking damages for the money the state and consumers have spent on the drugs and an injunction blocking the companies from “their continued deception and misrepresentation”.
The five manufacturers which are listed as defendants include:
- Purdue Pharma, which sold OxyContin, MS Contin, Dilaudid, Butrans, Hyslingla, and Targiniq
- Endo Health Solutions, which sold Percocet, Percodan, Opana, and Zydone
- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, which sold Actiq and Fentora
- Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which sold Duragesic and Nucynta
- Allergan, which sold Kadian, Norco, and several generic opioids