Ohio Attorney General Sues Five Opioid Makers

Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Lawsuit Brought Over Deceptive Opioid Marketing, Adding to Addiction Epidemic

A lawsuit has been brought over allegedly deceptive opioid drug marketing. The lawsuit, filed in Ohio, has been brought against five prescription opioid manufacturers.

The lawsuit names Purdue Pharma, marketer of OxyContin, MS Contin, Dilaudid, Butrans, Hyslingla, and Targiniq; Endo Health Solutions, the marketer of Percocet, Percodan, Opana, and Zydone; Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, the marketers Actiq and Fentora; Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, marketers of Duragesic and Nucynta; and Allergan, marketer of Kadian, Norco, and an array of generic opioids. Lawsuit allegations include fraudulent marketing and misrepresentation of the risks associated with opioids, especially addiction risks. Other allegations include false marketing, including medical journal advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information to minimize the risks and overstate the benefits of specific opioid formulations. Allegations also include that this behavior multiplied opioid prescriptions and have added to the opioid epidemic. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed the lawsuit.

“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,” Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine said.

AG DeWine also said that, “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…. 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,” AG Dewine added. The lawsuit is State of Ohio v. Purdue Pharma, et. al, Ross County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas.

Attorney General DeWine is seeking various remedies, including a declaration that the drug companies’ actions were illegal; an injunction for the drug makers to cease their continued deceptions and misrepresentations and to decrease the harm they have caused; damages for the money that the State of Ohio spent on the opioids that these drug makers sold and marketed in Ohio and for other costs of the drug makers’ deceptive acts; and repayment to consumers who, like the State of Ohio, paid for unnecessary opioid prescriptions for chronic pain. The lawsuit was filed in Ross County as Southern Ohio was likely the greatest hit area in the nation by the growing opioid epidemic.

Parker Waichman LLP has spent decades representing clients in drug injury lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing an opioid lawsuit.

The National Institutes of Health Announces its Plan to Handle the Opioid Crisis

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that, as of June 2017, some two million people have been diagnosed with a prescription opioid use disorder. Another 591,000 individuals suffer from a heroin use disorder. Opioid prescription drug misuse has cost the United States heavily with $78.5 billion spent in healthcare, law enforcement, and lost productivity. The NIH wrote that, “We understand opioid addiction better than many other drug use disorders; there are effective strategies that can be implemented right now to save lives and to prevent and treat opioid addiction. At the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta last April, lawmakers and representatives from health care, law enforcement, and many private stakeholders from across the nation affirmed a strong commitment to end the crisis.”

The NIH notes that research is an important element in achieving its goals and is part of the plans it has outlined to drive such research in three areas—overdose reversal, addiction treatment, and pain management—according to its piece in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More overdose-reversal interventions and improved formulations of naloxone to reduce death must be developed, according to the NIH. Naloxone, known under the brand names Narcon and Enzio, has shown to be effective in reversing opioid overdoses. At issue is that bystanders may not reach the overdosing individual in time and available doses may not be powerful or as sufficiently long lasting to reverse fentanyl and other extremely potent synthetic opioid overdoses. Research is also needed for technologies to detect an overdose, signal for help, and automatically intervene to stimulate respiration, according to the NIH, which notes that better strategies are needed to effectively involve individuals who have overdosed during addiction treatment.

The NIH noted that “new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid addiction” are necessary. The existing opioid agonist—methadone—; the partial agonist—buprenorphine—; and the antagonist—naltrexone—all effectively reduce illicit opioid use; however, this only happens when the drugs are given at an adequate dose and when patients follow their treatment plan. Not all patients respond to these medications, according to the NIH.

The NIH noted that its “growing knowledge of the neurobiology of opioid addiction has helped researchers to identify” new “molecular targets,” and also pointed out that there are novels ways in which to modify brain circuits to produce more effective and safer treatments for opioid use disorders. These include vaccines that involve the body’s immune system to stop opioids from entering the brain. According to the NIH, these vaccines have shown “shown great promise in animal studies.”

With nearly 20,000 overdoses in 2015 involving heroin or fentanyl, safe, effective, non-addictive treatments are needed to manage chronic pain, notes the NIH. The path of opioid addiction appears to begin with prescription opioid misuse. Giving two examples, the NIH indicated that some individuals with an opioid addiction began by taking pills from friends and family; others started with their own opioid prescription.

In addition to the NIH, other entities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggests reducing medical use of addictive prescription opioids, which would then minimize the supply of drugs. This does not speak to the real issue of untreated pain nationwide, “and we”—the NIH—“cannot solve the opioid addiction and overdose crisis without better addressing pain at the same time. New pain treatments need to be developed.” The NIH also wrote that, “Extraordinary focus is being brought to the opioid crisis by all segments of our society, so now is the time to leverage this awareness to accelerate the pace of research to develop new treatments.”

Filing an Opioid Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit involving an Opioid medications, please contact Parker Waichman today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).