Ohio joins an ever-growing number of states that have filed lawsuits against the pharmaceutical industry over the opioid epidemic in the United States on Wednesday, May 31. Mike DeWine, the attorney general of the state, sued the companies in a case similar to the pending case filed by Mississippi in 2015. Other states including California, New York and West Virginia and the City of Chicago have also started litigation.
In their lawsuit, the state accuses multiple drug companies of misleading patients and doctors of the dangers of overdose and addiction through marketing campaigns. Local and state governments across the nation are keeping a close eye on these lawsuits, but their decisions about how to proceed are being complicated by the differences in state laws across the United States.
“We are in ongoing discussions with attorneys general about what can only be described as a national epidemic,” Michael P. Canty, a lawyer in New York whose firm, Labaton Sucharow, is advising states on possible opioid litigation, said to the New York Times.
While prescription painkillers were used for short-term or acute pain initially, doctors have been prescribing them for chronic pain ad an increased rate over the past 20 years. DeWine stated that drug makers helped push for that change in the suit, and spent,
“millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”
Some of the companies named in the case include Allergan, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Purdue Pharma and more. The state is seeking to recover money spent on drugs through programs like Medicaid as well as on addiction treatment, a similar approach taken by states when they sued the tobacco industry, eventually receiving a settlement of more than $200 billion.
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