Ohio Sues Five Drug Firms, Saying They Fueled Opioid Crisis

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The suit, which DeWine said is the second by a US state, after MS, claims the drugmakers violated multiple state laws, including the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act, and committed Medicaid fraud.

The drugmakers sued by DeWine are Purdue Pharma; Endo Health Solutions; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and its subsidiary, Cephalon; Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Allergan.

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 companies disseminated that information through medical journals, sales pitches and the use of "front groups" set up to promote opioid products.

Janssen on Wednesday called the lawsuit's accusations legally and factually unfounded.

Purdue Pharma, says it shares DeWine's concerns about the opiate crisis and is committed to working together on a solution. The company said it acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients. Endo could not immediately be reached.

Prescription opioid overdoses have hit record levels in the United States, killing more than 15,000 people in 2015 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"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", Attorney General Mike DeWine declared. Nearly 2 million Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioid painkillers in 2014, according to the CDC.

Teva Pharmaceuticals says it's still reviewing the lawsuit and is unable to comment.

"This lawsuit is about justice, it's about fairness, it's about what is right", DeWine said in an.

Several West Virginia counties have filed lawsuits in recent months against drug wholesalers McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen for failing to report suspicious orders of opioids in the state.

State officials say parts of OH are believed to be the hardest hit in the nation by the current opioid addiction crisis, with 2.3 million patients, or about 20 percent of the population, having been prescribed an opioid drug a year ago. The crisis has been named by new Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb as a top priority. "We understand what we're taking on: five huge drug companies".

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