Ohio sues painkiller manufacturers over opioid addiction

Ohio sues painkiller manufacturers over opioid addiction
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The Ohio attorney general is suing five manufacturers of prescription opioids, alleging the companies made false statements about the risks and benefits of their painkillers that fueled the state’s epidemic of opioid addiction.

The lawsuit comes as the nation grapples with an increase in overdose deaths from prescription drugs and heroin. Ohio has been one of the states hardest hit by the epidemic, with data from the state’s health department showing that opioids causing the most overdoses.

Five manufacturers were named in the lawsuit filed Wednesday: Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.

“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,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

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“They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway — and they continue to do it.”

This isn’t the first time a state, county or city has sued an opioid drug manufacturer. Mississippi has also filed a lawsuit over companies’ opioid practices, and AP reported that Teva recently agreed to pay $1.6 million for substance abuse treatment to settle a lawsuit brought by two California counties.

A Janssen spokeswoman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the lawsuit’s allegations were “legally and factually unfounded,” saying the company has “acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label.”

In a statement, Purdue Pharma told the newspaper the company is an “industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone — all important components for combating the opioid crisis."

Allergan declined to comment, while Endo declined to comment on pending litigation. The other company didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.