Ohio at­tor­ney gen­eral sues five drug­mak­ers over opi­ate cri­sis.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JULIE CARR SMYTH

COLUM­BUS, OHIO | Ohio At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mike DeWine sued five drug­mak­ers on Wed­nes­day, ac­cus­ing the com­pa­nies of per­pe­trat­ing the state’s ad­dic­tions epi­demic by in­ten­tion­ally mis­lead­ing pa­tients about the dan­gers of painkillers and pro­mot­ing ben­e­fits of the drugs not backed by sci­ence.

Mr. DeWine said the com­pa­nies cre­ated a deadly mess in Ohio that they now need to pay to clean up.

“This law­suit is about jus­tice, it’s about fair­ness, it’s about what is right,” Mr. DeWine said in an­nounc­ing the com­plaint filed in Ross County, a south­ern Ohio com­mu­nity slammed by fa­tal drug over­doses from painkillers and heroin.

A record 3,050 Ohioans died from drug over­doses in 2015, a fig­ure ex­pected to jump sharply once 2016 fig­ures are tal­lied.

Mr. DeWine wants an in­junc­tion to stop the com­pa­nies from their al­leged mis­con­duct and dam­ages for money the state spent on opi­ates sold and mar­keted in Ohio. The at­tor­ney gen­eral also wants cus­tomers re­paid for un­nec­es­sary opi­ate pre­scrip­tions for chronic pain.

“These drug com­pa­nies knew that what they were do­ing was wrong and they did it any­way,” Mr. DeWine said.

The drug­mak­ers sued by Mr. DeWine are Pur­due Pharma; Endo Health So­lu­tions; Teva Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­dus­tries, and its sub­sidiary, Cephalon; John­son & John­son and its sub­sidiary Janssen Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals; and Al­ler­gan.

They var­i­ously man­u­fac­ture OxyCon­tin, Per­co­cet and a host of other painkillers that Mr. DeWine said rep­re­sent the heart of the prob­lem.

Christina Arre­dondo said her 24-yearold preg­nant daugh­ter, Feli­cia Detty, died af­ter a painkiller ad­dic­tion led to heroin and over­dose. She said she’s hope­ful the Ohio law­suit can be­gin to cur­tail the epi­demic by fight­ing it “from the top.”

“It’s not like they’re go­ing out to buy some co­caine on the street,” Ms. Arre­dondo said. “They’re go­ing to the doc­tor for a torn lig­a­ment in their shoul­der, or mi­graines, or hav­ing a tooth pulled.”

Janssen Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals on Wed­nes­day called the law­suit’s ac­cu­sa­tions legally and fac­tu­ally un­founded. The com­pany said it acted ap­pro­pri­ately, re­spon­si­bly and in the best in­ter­ests of pa­tients.

An­other de­fen­dant, Pur­due Pharma, said it shares Mr. DeWine’s con­cerns about the opi­ate cri­sis and is com­mit­ted to work­ing to­gether on a so­lu­tion. It won’t say if it’s chal­leng­ing the law­suit.

Teva Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals says it’s still re­view­ing the law­suit and is un­able to com­ment.

Endo de­clined com­ment. A mes­sage was left seek­ing com­ment with Al­ler­gan.

Mr. DeWine, a Repub­li­can ex­pected to run for gov­er­nor next year, joins other states that have filed sim­i­lar law­suits. His move comes af­ter years of calls for such ac­tion by Ohio Democrats.

Demo­cratic can­di­date Nan Wha­ley, Day­ton’s mayor, is air­ing on­line video spots in which she crit­i­cizes sit­ting Repub­li­cans for do­ing too lit­tle to solve the heroin and opi­oid epi­demic. Ms. Wha­ley says tak­ing on drug com­pa­nies for their role in the cri­sis will be her high­est pri­or­ity as gov­er­nor.

An­other gu­ber­na­to­rial con­tender, Demo­cratic state Sen. Joe Schi­avoni, said he pre­vi­ously had called for such an ac­tion.

“I hope that what­ever fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment this law­suit might bring will be

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Christina Arre­dondo wipes a tear on Wed­nes­day af­ter de­scrib­ing how her 24-year-old preg­nant daugh­ter died af­ter a painkiller ad­dic­tion led to heroin and drug over­dose. “It’s not like they’re go­ing out to buy some co­caine on the street,” she said.

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