Like many states across America, Ohio is in the thick of a deadly opioid epidemic. And while Jeff Sessions and the federal government may advocate locking up addicts and throwing away the key, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is taking a different approach - he’s suing the drug companies that produce painkillers in hopes of recouping some of the millions of dollars the health crisis they caused has cost the state.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, DeWine has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries of Israel, Johnson & Johnson, and Allegran for an undisclosed amount of damages. DeWine is also seeking a court injunction to shut down manufacturing, and has also accused the companies of violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and practicing Medicaid fraud.
“We believe the evidence will 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,” DeWine said in a statement.
DeWine is confident that he’ll be able to prove the pharmaceutical giants knowingly pushed the state into an addiction epidemic. The Ohio Attorney General said that drug companies spent $168 million in 2014 on sales reps responsible for “peddling prescription opioids to win over doctors with their smooth pitches and glossy brochures that downplayed the risks and highlighted the benefits.”
“The companies knew what they were doing was wrong but did it anyway — and continue to do so,” DeWine continued.
The lawsuit, filed in Ross County Common Pleas Court, claims that the specified drug companies caused Ohio hospitals to spend $105 million caring for infants born to drug addicts, and the state’s foster care system to spend $45 million caring for the children of addicts.
In addition to damages for the state, DeWine is seeking unspecified funds for consumers who he says were taken advantage of by the multinational corporations.
Between 2011 and 2015 DeWine’s lawsuit claims that Ohio doctors prescribed 3.8 billion doses of opioid medication.