The State of Ohio Sues Opioid Drug Makers for Damages. The State of Ohio has brought a case against drug manufacturers over the ever-broadening opioid epidemic. The case alleges a number of the country’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers purposefully misled consumers and physicians about the harmful effects and likelihoods of overdose and addiction. The five drug makers, along with the drugs that are in the suit:
- Allergan (Norco, Kadian, and generic opioids)
- Teva pharmaceutical makers, and its subsidiary, Cephalon (Fentora, and Actig)
- Johnson and Johnson, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Duragesic, and Nucynta)
- Envo Health Solutions (Zydone, Opana, Percodan, and Percocet)
- Perdue Pharma (Targiniq, Hysingla, Butrans, Dilaudid, MS Contin, and Oxycontin )
The Attorney General of Ohio (and one time U.S. Senator) Mike DeWine brought a similar case and a still-pending lawsuit in Mississippi in 2015. West Virginia has settled with the Major drug makers that will pay the state millions of dollars. Similar litigation has been started in certain counties in California and New York, as well as the City of Chicago.
“We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans- our friends, our family members, our co-workers, and kids- addicted to opioid pain medications, which has all too often led to the use of the cheaper alternatives of heroin and synthetic opioids,” DeWine said. Opioids are chemically similar to heroin, and include, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and meperidine. They are sold with the brand names Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Demerol. They can quickly cause physical dependence and addiction, not to mention death due to overdose.
The lawsuit in Ohio accuses the drug makers of out-right lying to doctors and the public that it would be easy to overcome any unintended addiction. And, despite a mass of evidence to the contrary, the manufacturers are doing next to nothing to take responsibility and tell the public the truth.
Originally conceived as short-term pain relievers, opioids have increasingly been prescribed for chronic pain. Patients are given these drugs for months, even years at a time. The Ohio case states that the drug makers spent millions of dollars to falsely promote the benefits of using these drugs for chronic pain while denying or downplaying the risk inherent in opioids. Now, even the business of opioid side effects is generating the use of additional drugs to fight constipation, and the inability to sleep. It’s like a cat chasing its tail. To be specific, the lawsuit accused the companies of violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a public nuisance by spreading misleading and false statements about the consequences of using this type of drug for long-term pain relief. The false advertising was targeted at medical journals, as well as statements from company sales representatives, and lobbying groups, all of which led to the over-prescribing of very dangerous and highly addictive drugs to the general public.
The Ohio Attorney General wants no less than the following:
- A declaration from the companies that their actions were illegal.
- An injunction to stop any continued deceptive statements and advertising and to abate the harm they have caused.
- Damages for the money that the state spent in re-educating the public in the dangers of opioid consumption and for the costs of their deceptive acts.
- Reimbursements to the general public who paid for the poorly prescribed medications due to the fraudulent advertising claims of long-term viability for pain.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm which has long noted that drug makers have frequently been accused of overstating the benefits of a particular drug, while at the same time downplaying the risks.
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