The 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
- Evans, C. C. (2016, April 23). Addiction city: Ohio’s opiate addicts would make the fifth largest city in the state. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/04/–_the_heroin_crisis_in_ohio.html
- Jacobo, J. (n.d.). Ohio attorney general sues 5 pharmaceutical companies over opioid epidemic. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from http://abcnews.go.com/US/ohio-attorney-general-sues-pharmaceutical-companies-opioid-epidemic/story?id=47750198
- Office of Ohio Attorney General . (2017, May 31). Attorney General DeWine Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers for Fraudulent Marketing; Fueling Opioid Epidemic [Press release]. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/May-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Files-Lawsuit-Against-Opio
- Opioid Overdose. (2016, December 16). Retrieved June 08, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html
- Perez-Peña, R. (2017, May 31). Ohio Sues Drug Makers, Saying They Aided Opioid Epidemic. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/us/ohio-sues-pharmaceutical-drug-opioid-epidemic-mike-dewine.html?_r=0
- Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. (2016, December 16). Retrieved June 08, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html
- Siemaszko, C. (2017, March 14). Too Many Bodies in Ohio Morgue, so Coroner Gets Death Trailer. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/too-many-bodies-ohio-morgue-so-coroner-gets-death-trailer-n733446