Ohio Attorney General Suing 5 Drug Companies Over Opioid Crisis

Ohio Attorney General Suing 5 Drug Companies Over Opioid CrisisThe state of Ohio is home to an estimated 200,000 opioid addicts – equivalent to the population of the city of Akron. The rate of overdose deaths has increased so much, that even some counties in the state don’t have enough room in their morgues. On May 31, Ohio attorney general, Mike DeWine announced he has filed a lawsuit against the five leading pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opiods.

The law suit alleges that these companies used marketing that misled patients and doctors about the risk of opioid addiction and overdose. It accuses the companies of leading patients and prescribers to believe that these drugs were not addictive, thus fueling Ohio’s current opioid epidemic. Among the false and misleading advertising alleged in the lawsuit are medical journal advertising, statements from sales representatives, and the use of organizations to spread information that played down the risks and promoted the benefits of certain opioid medications.

We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans — our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our kids — addicted to opioid pain medications, which has all too often led to use of the cheaper alternatives of heroin and synthetic opioids. These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids.Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

The five prescription drug manufacturers listed as defendants on the lawsuit include:

  • Purdue Pharma – responsible for selling OxyContin, Dilaudid, Hyslingla, MS Contin, Butrans, and Targiniq
  • Endo Health Solutions – this company sold Opana, Percocet, Percodan, and Zydone
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon – they sold Fentora and Actiq
  • Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals – these companies sold Duragesic and Nucynta
  • Allergan – they sold Norco, Kadian, and other generic opioids

The Opioid Epidemic Claims Lives Daily in the U.S.

In 2015, 33,091 people died of opioid-related overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2014 and 2015, the total number of overdose deaths in Ohio rose by 21.5% – a significant increase from previous years.

  • A record-breaking 3,050 Ohioans died from a drug overdose in 2015.
  • In 2015, more than 15,000 people in the U.S. died from an overdose related to prescription opioids.
  • Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in the ER for the improper use of prescription painkillers.
  • Methadone, Oxycodone (OxyContin) and Hydrocodone (Vicodin) were the most common prescription opioid drugs involved in overdose deaths
  • In 2014, approximately two million people abused or were dependent on prescription painkillers.

Ohioans face an even greater challenge when it comes to the opioid crisis, as stronger and deadlier opioids like fentanyl, which is said to be up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil, said to be up to 100 more potent than fentanyl are being found more frequently in toxicology reports, and leading to more overdoses.

Opioid drugs are now responsible for more deaths in this country than homicides, and the numbers are soon to exceed the amount of deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents.

Over-Prescribing has Led to Ohio’s Opioid Crisis

Prescription opioids were once primarily used to relieve short-term, acute pain, but over the last 20 years, they have been increasingly prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain. According to DeWine, the drug manufacturers promoted that shift. In his suit, he alleges that these companies spent “millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”

Additionally, DeWine said that these companies provided funds to medical societies, doctors and patient advocacy organizations to win their support for the use of the drugs. The lawsuit also says that by 2012, there were enough opioid prescriptions in Ohio to supply 68 pills a year to every man, woman and child in the state.

They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway — and they continue to do it. Despite all evidence to the contrary about the addictive nature of these pain medications, they are doing precious little to take responsibility for their actions and to tell the public the truth.Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

The lawsuit was filed in Ross Country, Ohio. The southern portion of the state has been the hardest hit are in the country by the opioid epidemic.

The following remedies are sought in the lawsuit:

  • A statement declaring that the companies’ actions were illegal
  • An injunction that would stop their deceptive marketing tactics and abate the damage they have caused
  • Damages for the funds spent by the state of Ohio on these drugs and for the cost of their deceptive practices
  • Repayment to all consumers who paid for unnecessary opioid prescriptions

Get Treatment for Opioid Addiction

If you or someone you love is one of the millions of Americans struggling with an opioid addiction, the professionals at Get Treatment can help. We are a recovery network that helps you locate, compare, and evaluate your options for substance abuse treatment. The top-rated addiction treatment facilities on our site can help you get your life back from this debilitating disease.

Let us help you find an accredited opioid treatment center that provides you with the individualized care and support you need to achieve lasting recovery. Our admissions professionals are dedicated to helping you get back on your feet. Give us a call today at 855-638-9268 and begin living the life you deserve.


Erica Loret de Mola


Erica Loret de Mola is a communications major who has been writing about addiction treatment for approximately three years. As content manager and editor in chief of Get Treatment, she strives to provide the most accurate and current information available to our clients.


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