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State of Ohio suing five largest opiates manufacturers

Profits being put above health, attorney gen. says
Posted at 11:27 AM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 18:25:30-04

The State of Ohio's attorney general announced Wednesday his office has filed a lawsuit against the five largest manufacturers of opiates.

Attorney General Mike DeWine conducted a news conference to announce the major litigation and said pharmaceutical companies use sales reps visiting doctors offices to market and down-play the risks of opioids.

Evidence shows these companies "put profits above health and well-being of Ohio consumers," DeWine said.

The five companies included in the lawsuit are:
• Purdue Pharma
• Endo Pharmaceuticals
• Janssen Pharmaceuticals
• Cephalon Inc.
• Allergan

He also said millions is spent on ads and medical journals to fund messages to ensure the marketing of these drugs is consistently delivered.

DeWine said the problem is how addicted Ohio's residents are getting to these drugs. Addiction is leading to use of heroin, which is an epidemic in the state, he said.

"Coroners in Ohio are struggling to keep up with the body count," DeWine said of the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit was filed in Ross County, Ohio, which is one of the more struggling areas in terms of the drug epidemic.

“We have enough to go on, enough to go to court," DeWine said. "I think it’s my moral obligation to do this."

He said the sales of opioids accounted for $11 billion in revenue in 2014 with projections growing to more than $17 billion by 2021.

In March, a U.S. Senate committee said it is conducting a probe into opiates manufacturers and whether they are responsible for over-prescriptions and thus overdose deaths.

Ohio saw more than 4,100 drug overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Columbus Dispatch

DeWine also said the five companies should be held responsible for Medicaid fraud because infants born to addicted mothers cost $105 million in hospital expenses in 2014. He is suing for damages on behalf of the state and consumers.