Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a lawsuit against five major drug manufacturers over the opioid addiction epidemic in the state.
DeWine said the companies “put profit above health and well being of Ohio consumers” when they marketed the drugs, misleading health officials. He says they flooded the market, and gave doctors misleading information about the benefits and addiction risks.
The lawsuit was filed against Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan Pharmaceuticals Wednesday morning in Ross County.
“Companies that we conclude spent millions of dollars to deceptively market their drugs, leading to our state’s worst public health crisis,” DeWine said.
DeWine says they believe the evidence will show companies “got thousands and thousands and thousands of Ohioans…addicted to opioids” through their actions. According to statistics from DeWine, 2.3 million Ohioans were prescribed opioids in 2016.
He accused them of leading doctors to believe drugs were not addictive, addiction was easy to overcome, and even that an addiction could be treated by taking more pills. “These companies knew what they were saying was wrong, but they did it anyway. And they continue to do so,” DeWine said.
He also says they exaggerated the effect of screening tools, and misrepresented the severity of dependence and withdrawal.
“We think the evidence is going to show that they knew what they were saying wasn’t true and they did it to boost sales,” DeWine said.
The Attorney General says he’s seen the devastation the addiction epidemic across the state as he’s traveled. “It is a human tragedy of epic proportion, ripping families apart, tearing at the fabric of our communities, and holding our state back. And tragically, the death waves of this tsunami have not crested,” DeWine said.
In outlining some of the costs the state has occurred because of the opioid epidemic, DeWine said 50% of kids and 70% of babies placed in the foster care system have a parent or parents with opiod addictions, costing the state $145 million a year. He also said in 2014, babies born with pre-natal opioid addiction spent approximately 26,000 days in NICU, costing at least $105 million.
“I think it’s my moral obligation to do this,” DeWine said. “I don’t want to look back in 10 years and say we should’ve had the guts to file, we should’ve had the guts to call a spade a spade.”
The lawsuit says they believe the evidence will show the companies:
1) Created a public nuisance under the Ohio product liability act and common law
2) Violated Ohio consumer sales practice act
3) Committed Medicaid fraud
4) Committed common law fraud, by knowingly materially false statements that Ohio relied on when paying claims
5) Violated the Ohio corrupt practices act
In the lawsuit they’re asking for a declaration the companies’ actions were illegal, an injunction to stop “continued deception and misrepresentation”, damages for money the state spent on opiods and other costs, payment to consumers who paid for unnecessary prescriptions for opioids for chronic pain.
DeWine says they chose Ross County in part because southern Ohio was “likely the first and hardest hit area in the nation” by the addiction epidemic. They returned there with the lawsuit to begin the effort to “hold these companies accountable.”
On – 31 May, 2017 By WSYX/WTTE