COLUMBUS, Ohio-- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday the state filed a lawsuit against five major drug manufacturers.
DeWine said this is about accountability in the opioid crisis that has claimed the lives of thousands of Ohioans. The suit accuses five companies, Janssen Pharmaceutical, Allergan, Purdue Pharma, Endo and Cephalon, of downplaying the risks of using drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet.
"This is a human tragedy of epic proportion, ripping families apart," DeWine said.
Ohio is the second state to file a lawsuit of this nature. Mississippi was the first.
DeWine said these companies intentionally minimizing the risks of addition and misrepresenting the severity of opioid dependence. That resulted in people seeking cheaper and more accessible ways of dealing with chronic pain and addiction, DeWine said. He said these companies also committed Medicaid fraud.
"These drug manufacturers knew what they were doing was wrong, but they continued to do it anyway," DeWine said.
The state is seeking damages for the resources it spent investigating and handing the opioid problem, as well as compensation for individual families. The attorney general also said he wants these companies to stop this behavior.
"I think this is my moral obligation to do this," DeWine told reporters. He said he didn't want to look back 10 years from now and know he didn't decide to take on these major drug companies.
The lawsuit was filed in Ross County. DeWine said southern Ohio was the first part of state affected by the opioid crisis. During the news conference, the attorney general had a woman, who lost her daughter to a heroin overdose, share her experience.
In Cuyahoga County last month, at least 41 people lost their lives to heroin or fentanyl overdoses. Over Memorial Day weekend, another 13 died in suspected drug overdoses in the county, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office.
For a list of resources to help those who may be battling addiction, click here.