Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is suing five makers of opioid painkillers for their role in the state's opioid epidemic.
The suit, which DeWine said is the second by a U.S. state, after Mississippi, claims the drugmakers violated multiple state laws, including the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act, and committed Medicaid fraud.
"In 2014 alone, pharmaceutical companies spent $168 million through sales reps peddling prescription opioids to win over doctors with smooth pitches and glossy brochures that downplayed the risks" of the medicines," DeWine said at a press conference Wednesday. Last year, he said, 2.3 million people in Ohio, or about a fifth of the state's population, were prescribed opioids.
In a statement, a spokesman for Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, said the company shares the attorney general's concerns about the opioid crisis and that it is "committed to working collaboratively to find solutions."
"OxyContin accounts for less than 2% of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, but we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone — all important components for combating the opioid crisis," he said.
Allergan declined to comment, as did a Teva spokeswoman, who said, "We have not completed review of the complaint."
J&J's Janssen unit said the company believed the allegations in the lawsuit were "both legally and factually unfounded."
"Janssen has acted appropriately, responsibly and in the best interests of patients regarding our opioid pain medications, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about the known risks of the medications on every product label," said Jessica Castles Smith, a Janssen spokeswoman.
Endo officials weren't immediately available to comment.