Ohio attorney general sues 5 drug makers over opiate crisis

Mr. DeWine picked Ross County for the suit because southern OH was seen as Ohio's ground zero for an epidemic of painkiller and heroin addiction that has since spread across the state.

The U.S. state of OH filed a lawsuit Wednesday against five prescription drug manufacturers, saying they used deceptive practices that fueled an opioid addiction epidemic.

Mike DeWine, the state's attorney general, filed a civil lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Purdue Pharma, Endo and Cephalon - accusing them of understating the negative impacts of pain killers, in turn causing people to become hooked and turn to harder drugs.

In an interview, Mr. DeWine said Ohio's lawsuit is among the most comprehensive taken by any state against opioid-painkiller makers.

The companies knew what they were doing was wrong but did it anyway - and continue to do so, the attorney general said.

DeWine said the evidence shows the companies "put profits above health and well-being of OH consumers" who are "addicted to opioid pain medications".

Janssen Pharmaceuticals says it acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients.

More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, including prescription painkillers, opioids, and heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"Now we know that an average of 11 Ohioans died every single day from drug overdoses previous year", Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said.

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Like the cigarette makers, the drug makers relied on "sales representatives" and influential doctors and "seemingly neutral and credible professional societies and patient advocacy groups" to tout the supposed benefits of long-term opioid use "even though there is no "good evidence" to support" those claims, the suit states.

While regulators are still trying to figure out how to deal with the opioid problem, DeWine wants to make sure the drug companies are held accountable for their role in the crisis.

This isn't the first time a state, county or city has sued an opioid drug manufacturer. OH is at the helm of the country's opiate problem, with more than 4,000 residents fatally overdosing previous year.

Teva said it is reviewing the complaint and didn't have an immediate comment.

"Like the tobacco companies, defendants used third parties that they funded, directed, and controlled to carry out and hide their scheme to deceive doctors and patients about the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use for chronic pain", DeWine states in the lawsuit. Allergan and Endo declined to comment.

DeWine is joining other states that have filed similar lawsuits in the past.

OH and West Virginia are among the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

The state of OH has sued five major drug manufacturers for its role in the opioid epidemic. Joe Schiavoni, said he had previously called for such an action.

In 2015, Kentucky settled a similar lawsuit with Purdue Pharma for $24 million, and OR settled with another opioid painkiller manufacturer.

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