Big Pharma Battles Ohio Attorney General in Prescription Opioid Lawsuit

Some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are fighting a prescription opioid lawsuit that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed in response to the number of deaths in this state, reported in September. With 2,106 opioid overdose-related deaths in 2014, Ohio ranked first in the country, surpassing a state that has three times as many residents. In 2015, the number of deaths increased to 2,590, according to the Ohio Department of Health. More than 250 occurred in Cuyahoga County. Last year, the number of deaths increased 32.8 percent to more than 4,000.

Why Did Ohio’s Attorney General File a Prescription Opioid Lawsuit?

“Ohio leads the nation in overdose deaths, and DeWine maintains the drug companies triggered the crisis by flooding the state with prescription painkillers,” said. The Ohio Department of Health has stated that, in 2010 alone, Ohio pharmacies received 692 million doses, or enough to give every resident 60 doses. “[DeWine’s] lawsuit claims that in order to boost profits, the companies lied to physicians by overstating the drugs’ benefits and downplaying their risks.”

What Risks Do Prescription Opioids Pose?

The biggest risks that prescription opioids pose are addiction and death. Part of the problem lies in the fact that doctors often prescribe extended-release versions “for months or years to treat chronic pain,” the FDA said. Adding to the problem, users quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, so they feel like they need more to achieve the same pain alleviation they attained when they first started taking the opioid, the Morning Journal reported. Taking too much can result in an overdose, which begins with:

  • shallow breathing and a slow or nonexistent pulse
  • vomiting or choking
  • a pale and clammy complexion
  • blue or gray lips, skin, and fingernails
  • unresponsiveness

and can lead to death.

Who’s at Risk the Most?

“Ohio opioid deaths overwhelmingly affected white males more than any other demographic,” said. As for the age of those who died in 2014: 192 were between 15 and 24 years old; 560 were between 25 and 34 years old; 534 were between 35 and 44 years old; 490 were between 45 and 54 years old; and 290 were between 55 and 64 years old.

How Did Pharmaceutical Companies Respond to the Lawsuit?

Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma said DeWine’s lawsuit neglected to name any doctors who prescribed Purdue’s opioid when it wasn’t warranted or because the company’s marketing materials were misleading. The company also said Ohio couldn’t pursue a lawsuit because the FDA approved the drug’s safety warnings. Purdue and other drug makers Actavis, Cephalon, Endo, Janssen, and Teva said DeWine’s lawsuit should be put on hold until the FDA finishes reviewing the risks and benefits of taking their prescription opioids, said. “The lawsuit is among more than a dozen civil cases that states, cities and counties filed over the past year against the opioid industry.” Although the lawsuit may sound similar to those that tobacco companies faced in the late ‘90s, resulting in a more-than-$200-billion settlement, pharmaceutical companies’ attorneys claim they differ in that their drugs are safe when used as directed.

Contact Prescription Opioid Lawsuit Attorney Tom Robenalt with Your Questions

If you have questions about filing a prescription opioid lawsuit for a loved one’s oxycodone, hydrocodone, or other opioid-related overdose, attorney Tom Robenalt, who’s licensed to practice in Florida and Ohio, welcomes you to contact his office for a free consultation to discuss your claim. In both states, the law limits the amount of time you have to pursue damages such as burial expenses and loss of consortium, so please call 216-223-7535, submit this form, or email today.

Categories: Wrongful Death