Drugmaker rejects lawsuit over opiate sales

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Drugmaker rejects lawsuit over opiate sales

02 June, 2017

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.

Ohio's attorney general said the state is suing five drugmakers, alleging they fueled the opioid crisis by misrepresenting the addictive risks of their painkillers.

During the press conference, which was held in Columbus, DeWine announced that OH has filed suit in Ross County against the drug makers, including Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, and Allergan.

"These drug companies knew that what they were saying was wrong".

DeWine said the evidence shows the companies "put profits above health and well-being of OH consumers" who are "addicted to opioid pain medications". The spokesperson added that Janssen had acted responsibly, appropriately and in the patient's best interest regarding its opioid medications, which are approved by the FDA and carry warnings mandated by the FDA about known risks of the medicine on every label of the product.

People who take prescription painkillers can get addicted, and some turn to drugs like heroin when their prescriptions run out. More than t3,000 Ohioans died of drug overdoses in 2015 and early numbers indicate the death toll reached over 4,000 in 2016.

"We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with pain meds that they produced, and that they did so for the objective of increasing sales", DeWine tells NPR's All Things Considered.

DeWine accused the drug companies of putting profits before people. A woman who lost her daughter to opiate addiction appeared with DeWine today, explaining to reporters how powerless she and millions of Americans feel against this public health crisis.

The state of OH figures it's home to 200,000 opioid addicts.

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Attorney General Mike DeWine said the drug manufacturers knowingly misled physicians and patients into thinking OxyContin, Percocet and other opioids were nonaddictive and safe in large quantities.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids are most commonly given for moderate-to-severe pain after surgery or injury, but that in recent years there has been an increase in their prescription for chronic pain "despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness".

Endo declined to comment to the network.

Purdue said in an emailed statement: "We share the attorney general's concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions".

Pharmaceutical manufacturers named in the lawsuit have been quick to speak out against the action.

Another gubernatorial contender, Democratic state Sen. Last week, Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman sent DeWine a letter asking him to seek damages to pay for addiction treatment.

The suit also targets the drug companies marketing opioids to doctors.

- Kentucky settled with Purdue in 2015 for $24 million in a similar case accusing the company of leading an "explosion in opioids".

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