Pharmaceutical Company Responds to Ohio's Opioid Crisis Lawsuit

[image-1]Multiple lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies have originated in Ohio this year, as the overdose death tolls climbs once again to record-shattering numbers. Attorney General Mike DeWine filed one of those civil complaints in May, alleging that the likes of Janssen Pharmaceutical, Allergan, Purdue Pharma, Endo and Cephalon played an active role in flooding the market with prescription painkillers, which led explicitly to addiction for untold numbers of Ohioans.

Now, Purdue Pharma is arguing that the suit should be tossed.

The central contention is that DeWine is seeking to circumvent federal regulations by using state law to hold Purdue and the other companies liable. The FDA already imposes labeling rules "based on its expert review of the risk-benefit information related to opioid use, abuse, misuse, addiction, overdose, duration of use, and daily dose," a Purdue spokesperson tells Scene via email.

The company insists that the state's civil action "does not establish the requisite 'reasonable connection'" between Purdue's marketing statements and the mounting opioid overdose death toll.

Ohio, of course, is at the helm of the country's pharmaceutical and heroin addiction problem, with more than 4,000 residents fatally overdosing last year on a small variety of opioids. Medical examiners across the state have predicted even greater numbers of deaths in 2017.

"Quite candidly, I think it's my moral obligation to do this," DeWine said in May. "I don't want to look back 10 years from now and say we should have had the guts to file, we should have had the guts to call a spade a spade. ... There's not a lot of precedent for this action."

At the time, Ohio followed only Mississippi in movement of states against major pharmaceutical companies. Since then, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Missouri and Oklahoma have filed similar suits.

Last month, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, which theoretically should unlock more federal funds for drug treatment and a spectrum of resources at more local levels of government (like outfitting police departments with Narcan). No formal action has been taken since Trump’s announcement, though.

We'll keep an eye on this suit and others as they work their way through the courts.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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