“We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with pain meds that they produced, and that they did so for the purpose of increasing sales,” DeWine tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “And boy, did they increase sales.”
Ohio’s state Attorney General Mike DeWine has put into motion a lawsuit against five major drug manufacturers (Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Cephalon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan) for their roles in helping to unleash a health care crisis and downplaying the addiction risks of opioids they sold. Dewine told NPR that he believes the evidence will speak for itself.
Dewine also believes that this marketing campaign to target doctors isn’t just a recent, one-off scheme. “This was not something that the pharmaceutical companies just woke up some day and just started to do a little bit of it,” he says. “I mean, there was a concerted effort for an extended number of years to really pound this into the heads of doctors. And when you’re told something time and time and time again and there’s a lot of advertising that is being spent, yeah, it takes a while to turn that around.”
Big Pharma is denying all allegations that this was a focused effort to flood these states with an unnecessary amount of pills so they could profit, but the evidence doesn’t seem to back that claim. In 2012, there were 793 million doses of opioids prescribed in Ohio. That’s enough to supply every person in Ohio, children included, with 68 pills. By 2016, roughly a fifth of the state was prescribed an opioid.
Dewine isn’t the first government official to go after one of these companies. The lawsuit follows similar recent lawsuits in Illinois, Mississippi, four counties in New York, and Santa Clara and Orange Counties in California. Last month, the Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit against distributors and pharmacies in tribal court over the opioid epidemic. In January, the city of Everett, Washington, filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, alleging that the company knew the drug was being funneled into the black market but did nothing to stop it.
Still, these lawsuits will prove hard to win. Purdue has taken measures to more clearly label their products and state the dangers of addiction. These small steps are all these companies need to really prove to courts to get out of taking any real responsibility. Also, it is hard to place the blame on the companies alone, when there are also the doctors who are prescribing such egregious amounts and dealers on the streets with teams of people filling prescriptions. The role of trying to fight the opioid epidemic may soon fall back on the people in the trenches trying to properly educate those who need help and informing their loved ones of the signs and best ways to help those they care about fight this awful disease.
We here at Infinite Recovery are closely monitoring the opioid epidemic and are here to help. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction or heroin addiction, get help now. We offer a confidential hotline at (844) 206-9063 and our admissions team is available 24/7 online.