The attorney general of Ohio has filed a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical companies for allegedly misleading patients concerning the dangers posed by painkillers as well as promoting drug benefits that couldn’t be backed by science. Since the drugmakers brought on the state a deadly mess, they now needed to foot the bill of cleaning up according to Mike DeWine, according to the Ohio attorney general.

“[The] lawsuit alleges that the drug companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids which fueled Ohio’s opioid epidemic,” read a press release that was issued by the office of the Ohio attorney general.

Consumer protection law

Specifically the pharmaceutical firms were accused of violation the consumer protection law of the state by misleading prescribers into believing there was no addiction danger posed by opioids and that in the event that there was, it could be easily overcome or could be easily treated with more opioids.

The pharmaceutical companies which have been sued include Allergan, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo Health Solutions, Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma. Also sued are subsidiaries of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Johnson & Johnson – Cephalon and Janssen Pharmaceuticals respectively.

Record deaths

In 2015 about 3,050 people died as a result of overdosing on drugs in Ohio. The number is expected to be higher once figures from 2016 are tallied and released. DeWine is now seeking an injunction that will stop the pharmaceutical firms from going on with the alleged misconduct. The Ohio attorney general also wants the state compensated by the drugmakers for the money it spent on the opiates that were marketed and sold locally. DeWine also wants the pharmaceutical firms to repay customers for opiate prescriptions they made unnecessarily to patients suffering from chronic pain.

According to the lawsuit, dissemination of the misleading information by the drugmakers occurred through sales pitches and medical journals. It was also carried out through front groups which had been set up with the aim of promoting opioid products. These front groups include National Pain Foundation, American Chronic Pain Association and American Pain Society.

National crisis

The Ohio attorney general who will be contesting for the governor’s seat next year on a Republican ticket joins other states’ attorney generals who have also filed similar suits against pharmaceutical firms over the opioid crisis. Nationwide, a record 33,000 Americans died in 2015 as a result of opioid drugs which include heroin and prescription painkillers.