Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit Wednesday against five pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids, as well as their related companies, alleging that the companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids, which he says fueled Ohio’s opioid epidemic.
In a press release Wednesday, DeWine named the five companies listed as defendants in the suit:
- 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
“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. 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.
“They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway—and they continue to do it,” he continued. “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.”
The lawsuit accuses the companies of violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and creating a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids.
“This false marketing included medical journal advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain formulations of opioids. This behavior proliferated the prescription of opioids and fueled the opioid epidemic Ohio is currently facing,” DeWine said.
DeWine is seeking the following remedies in the lawsuit:
- a declaration that the companies’ actions were illegal
- an injunction to stop their continued deceptions and misrepresentations and to abate the harm they have caused
- damages for the money that the state spent on the opioids that these companies sold and marketed in Ohio and for other costs of their deceptive acts
- repayment to consumers who, like the state, paid for unnecessary opioid prescriptions for chronic pain
Drugs like Percocet and OxyContin are basically pharmaceutical heroin, and extremely addictive. It’s unfortunate that no one really cared until white people became the face of that addiction, but good on Ohio for taking steps to try to remedy or rectify that.