Pharmaceutical Companies Sued in Ohio for Involvement in Opioid Epidemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, were linked to the death of more than 33,000 persons within the US. As a result of the increasing rates of opioid addiction across the individual states within the US have taken action. Mississippi and various counties of West Virginia have already filed suits against pharmaceutical companies, claiming that these companies have been misrepresenting the side-effects of their products and bolstering the claimed benefits for ailments such as chronic pain . This recent shift to opioid prescription for long term pain management has served to compound the rate of addiction.
On May 31st, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a suit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Janssen, and Allergan in response to rates of opioid use in the state, particularly the OxyContin and Percocet provided by these companies . According to the Columbus Dispatch, 2.3 million Ohio residents were prescribed opioids in 2016. Additionally, 4,169 residents died from overdose in 2016 . DeWine believes that “Southern Ohio was likely the hardest hit area in the nation by the opioid epidemic” as “these companies continue to mislead the public” [2, 1].
Purdue Pharmaceuticals has discounted the suit’s claim that OxyContin has significantly contributed to the opioid crisis, however, they do admit the presence of a national problem. In response to this, the company has been a leader “in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone,” an anti-overdose treatment . While Endo, Teva, and Allergan could not be reached for comment Janssen’s spokesman has stated that the suit is “legally and factually unfounded” .
1. Chris Kenning, “Ohio sues five drug companies over opioid crisis,” last modified May 31, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ohio-opioids-idUSKBN18R2BY
2. Colin Dwyer, “Ohio Sues 5 Major Drug Companies for ‘Fueling Opioid Epidemic’,” last modified May 31, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/31/530929307/ohio- sues-5-major-drug-companies-for-fueling-opioid-epidemic
3. Corky Siemaszko, “Ohio Sues Big Pharma, Blaming Drug Makers for Causing Opioid Epidemic”, last modified May 31, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/americas-heroin-epidemic/ohio-sues-big-pharma-blaming-drug-makers-causing-opioid-epidemic-n766706