Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a lawsuit against the major prescription opioid manufacturers alleging that the companies engaged in fraudulent marketing around the risks and benefits of the drugs, “which fueled Ohio’s opioid epidemic.”
The companies listed in the lawsuit 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
“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,” said OH AG DeWine.
He went on to say, “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. They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway — and they continue to do it. 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.”
Reuters reported the following responses from the manufacturers:
“Janssen spokesman Jessica Castles Smith said in an emailed statement: “The allegations in this lawsuit are both legally and factually unfounded.”
She said Janssen has acted responsibly regarding its opioid pain medications, which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and carry FDA-mandated warnings on their labels about the drugs’ known risks.
Allergan and Teva declined to comment. Endo could not immediately be reached.”
Purdue Pharma told ABC News, “OxyContin accounts for less than 2 percent of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, but we are 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.”
In the lawsuit, AG DeWine is seeking the following:
- “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.”
The federal government, including the CDC, FDA and DEA, have been coming down hard on opioids, and like with any crisis, they want to point the fingers while kicking the vast, vast, vast majority of people who use these medications for pain to the curb.
Now in Ohio, like West Virginia and California, the state is looking to cash in while not differentiating illegally obtained prescription pain medicines, heroin, and black market fentanyl from the legal opioid prescriptions that treat pain.
Drug companies are a convenient target, as they are faceless and have enormously deep pockets. They are more convenient of a target then the physicians who prescribe these medicines, who in nearly all circumstances prescribe opioids responsibly.
Government is a powerful beast, and these forces are scaring many physicians into treating patients how the government says they should be treated versus how the individual needs treatment.