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Ohio attorney general sues pharmaceutical companies over opioid crisis

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against five pharmaceutical companies, saying that by making users believe their opioid products were not addictive, they helped start the state's opioid epidemic.

The suit targets Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan. The lawsuit alleges that the companies violated Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a "public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids." In a statement, DeWine said the state believes evidence will show that "these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans — our friends, our family members, our coworkers, our kids — addicted to opioid pain medications, which has all too often led to use of the cheaper alternatives of heroin and synthetic opioids. These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids."

Ohio is seeking a declaration from the companies that they acted illegally, an injunction to stop "their continued deceptions and misrepresentations and to abate them the harm they have caused," and damages for money Ohio has spent on opioids and repayment to consumers who "like the state paid for unnecessary opioid prescriptions for chronic pain," ABC News reports. In 2015, 3,050 people died in Ohio from drug overdoses.