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Ohio sues pharma companies for intensifying opioid epidemic

Ohio has filed a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical companies manufacturing opioids. State Attorney General Mike DeWine said these companies took to “fraudulent marketing strategies regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids which fueled Ohio’s opioid epidemic.” These companies gave an impression, very subtly, that opioids were not addictive and were harmless, he said.

The attorney general said that the false propaganda played an important role in giving rise to the opioid epidemic in Ohio. Releasing a statement, DeWine said these manufacturers also coerced prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, and even if someone became addicted to opioids, overcoming it was an effortless task. These companies propagated that an addiction could be treated by taking more opioids.

“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,” said DeWine.

Ohio stuck deep in muck of opioid epidemic

Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Endo Health Solutions, Allergan and Johnson & Johnson, including its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, were named in the suit. The lawsuit is seeking a declaration from these companies that their actions were illegal and this would be an injunction to stop their misleading activities.

Even the figures project a grim picture of the state. Ohio registered 3,050 drug overdose deaths in 2015, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The figure may also shoot up in subsequent years, according to the AP. A survey of Ohio county coroners by The Columbus Dispatch has recently revealed that more than 4,000 people succumbed to drug overdoses in 2016. At this number, the state witnessed the most overdose deaths in the nation.

There was a gross violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, the lawsuit quoted, and there was dissemination of false and misleading statements pertaining to risks and benefits of opioids. This kind of information given out by pharmaceutical companies sent a wrong signal to patients who believed whatever they read and heard. The companies, however, do not agree to these allegations and said that most of them were unfounded.

A spokesperson from the Janssen said that the company put great emphasis on the well-being of patients, caregivers and families. He cited that millions of American adults suffer from chronic pain and there was tremendous emotional and financial burden on the patients as well as their families. He further said that the company’s pain medications gave doctors and patients an opportunity to make choices and manage chronic pain. These companies said that their opioid medication were all FDA-approved and the product labels religiously carried FDA-mandated warnings about any potential risks of the medication.

Dealing with addiction

The country is reeling under immense pressure due to opioid epidemic. The FDA has expressed deep concern about the “growing epidemic of opioid use, dependence, and overdose in the United States.” The agency has also come up with a comprehensive action plan to take definitive steps for thwarting the opioid onslaught on American families and communities.

Whether it is opioids, illicit street drugs, alcohol, marijuana or any other substance, addiction is a malady that destroys an individual and his or her loved ones. Chronic addictions are always fatal. However, addiction is treatable with timely intervention. One can realign to mainstream and gain a sober life after seeking treatment. Thus, if you have a loved one grappling with an addiction, call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for information on drug rehab centers.

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