Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley on Wednesday filed suit against three large pharmaceutical companies, saying their “campaign of fraud and deception” led to an opioid crisis in the state, reports the Associated Press. Hawley filed suit in St. Louis Circuit Court, naming Endo Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Hawley said the suit will seek “hundreds of millions of dollars” in both damages and civil penalties. He said any money awarded in the suit should go toward drug rehabilitation services and efforts to help families affected by drug addiction. Other states have also sued pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis, starting with Mississippi in 2015.
Hawley said the three companies misrepresented the addictive risks of opioids, often using fraudulent science to back their claims. As a result, thousands of Missourians dealing with chronic pain were given unnecessary opioid prescriptions. Officials with Janssen and Purdue Pharma said in statements that their companies share concerns about the opioid crisis, but both denied wrongdoing. Missouri remains the only state that has failed to create a prescription drug monitoring system, a database that allows doctors and pharmacists to keep track of patients’ prescriptions. Lawmakers again this year considered a monitoring system but failed to approve it.