Ohio Sues Five Opioid Manufacturers

June 2, 2017

The state is alleging that misleading marketing practices contributed to the opioid epidemic in Ohio.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit on May 31, 2017 against five prescription opioid manufacturers, claiming the companies misled prescribers to believe that opioids were non-addictive. The lawsuit was filed in the Ross County Court of Common Pleas and names five opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a public nuisance by propagating misleading statements about opioids. These misleading statements include advertisements, statements made my sales representatives, and the use of front groups that delivered information inflating the benefits and downplaying the risks of 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 in a statement. "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."

In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson for Janssen said, “The allegations in this lawsuit are both legally and factually unfounded." A representative from Purdue told the publication, "We share the attorney general's concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions."

A press release about the lawsuit noted that Ohio was “likely the hardest hit area in the national by the opioid epidemic.” The dispute alleges that the companies misleading behavior influenced the opioid epidemic in the state.

Source: Ohio Attorney General, Reuters