In one of the highest-profile cases against makers of prescription painkillers, Ohio has filed suit against five drug companies, alleging they fueled the opioid addiction crisis by misrepresenting the addictive risks of painkillers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The suit targets parent companies and subsidiaries, including Purdue Pharma L.P.; Johnson & Johnson; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd; Allergan PLC, and Endo International PLC’s Endo Health Solutions unit. Johnson & Johnson denied the allegations. The other companies either declined comment or said officials were reviewing the allegations.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the companies were dishonest with doctors and the public about painkillers’ risks. “The evidence is going to show they knew what they were saying was not true and they did it to increase sales,” he said. DeWine said opioid addiction has taken an extraordinary human and financial toll on Ohio, which has one of the highest opioid overdose death rates of any state. States and the federal government have pursued legal action against Purdue, alleging improper marketing of the painkiller OxyContin, and won settlements from the company. Some cities and counties have pursued lawsuits against broader groups of opioid painkiller makers. DeWine said Ohio’s lawsuit is among the most comprehensive taken by any state against a broad group of opioid painkiller makers. A similar lawsuit was filed by Mississippi in state court in 2015, alleging similar wrongdoing against the same five companies.