COLUMBUS — The Ohio Attorney General on Wednesday sued five drugmakers for their alleged role perpetrating the state's addictions epidemic, accusing the companies of intentionally misleading patients about the dangers of painkillers and promoting benefits of the drugs not backed by science.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said the companies created a deadly mess in Ohio that they now need to pay to clean up.
“This lawsuit is about justice, it's about fairness, it's about what is right,” DeWine said in announcing the complaint filed in Ross County, a southern Ohio community slammed by fatal drug overdoses from painkillers and heroin.
A record 3,050 Ohioans died from drug overdoses in 2015, a figure expected to jump sharply once 2016 figures are tallied.
DeWine wants an injunction stopping the companies from their alleged misconduct and damages for money the state spent on opiates sold and marketed in Ohio. The attorney general also wants customers repaid for unnecessary opiate prescriptions for chronic pain.
DeWine, a Republican expected to run for governor next year, joins other states that have filed similar lawsuits. His move also comes as other candidates in the governor's race have made holding pharmaceutical companies’ accountable for their role in the crisis a campaign issue.
Democratic candidate Nan Whaley, the Dayton mayor, is airing online video spots in which she criticizes sitting Republicans for doing too little to solve the heroin and opioid epidemic. Whaley says taking on drug companies for their role in the crisis will be her highest priority as governor.
In 2015, Kentucky settled a similar lawsuit with Purdue Pharma in December 2015. The company agreed to pay Kentucky $24 million as part of the settlement of a long-running lawsuit that accused the company of misleading the public about the addictiveness of the powerful prescription drug OxyContin.
The drugmakers sued by DeWine are Purdue Pharma; Endo Health Solutions; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and its subsidiary, Cephalon; Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Allergan.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report.
- Lorain to sue drug companies over opioid crisis
- AP Report: 'Pain League' allegedly pushed opioids in Italy
- Federal judge changes trial sequence for opioid lawsuits
- Opioid case has new complication: Babies born in withdrawal
- North Ridgeville files suit against drug manufacturers
- Ohio opioid woes one reason drug lawsuits brought to state
- Judge urges action on '100 percent manmade' opioid crisis
- Federal judge rules opioid distribution data not for public consumption
- Attorney General DeWine talks jobs, opioids in 2018 gubernatorial push
- Elyria City Council set to vote on opioid lawsuit
- Elyria Council initiates process to sue over opioids
- Lorain sues over opioid epidemic
- OPIOID OVERLOAD: County struggles as epidemic widens
- County sues opioid makers
- Gray death: Dangerous opioid combo is latest mixing trend
- Round table to discuss local, statewide heroin problem
- Elephant sedative becoming part of America's opioid problem
- Overcoming Opioids: The quest for less addictive drugs
- City says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market
- Lorain County coroner: We lost the War on Drugs