Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ohio Sues Drug Makers For Their Alleged Role In State's Opioid Crisis

Ohio Public Radio

Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a lawsuit against five major drug companies, saying they have contributed to the opioid epidemic. Ohio leads the nation in the number of opioid deaths, with more than 4000 in 2016.  The companies named in the lawsuit are Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan. A copy of the lawsuit may be obtained through the AG's website. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

Ross County resident Christina Arredondo knows about opioid addiction. Her daughter, Felicia Detty, became addicted after pills were prescribed for her when she was 18 years old.

It never went away. It was a battle she fought every moment of every day.”

And in 2015, when she was just 24 years old and five months pregnant, her fight ended.

She loved with all of her heart. But she suffered from something she lost the fight to, no matter how hard she tried to fight. And to think that people do this to make money.”

Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, says drug manufacturers have made millions of dollars, selling these pain killers to doctors and customers, by deceiving doctors and without disclosing the addictive nature of the opioids.

Between 2011 and 2015, 3.8 billion doses of this medication were prescribed just to Ohioans. In 2016, 2.3 million Ohioans were prescribed opioids. That’s roughly one fifths of our state’s population.”

DeWine says these companies have been deceptive and have put profits ahead of the well-being of Ohioans. So he’s filed a big lawsuit against five drug manufacturers. He’s asking for a jury trial. And he’s asking these drug companies to pay damages that could then be used to help fight the opioid battle in Ohio.

This lawsuit is about justice. It’s about fairness. It’s about what is right. It is just and it is right that the people who played a significant role in creating this mess in the state of Ohio should pay to clean it up.”


DeWine, who is likely running for Governor in 2018, says the opioid problem costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid, BWC and other state programs.  And he says the problem is responsible for an increased need for foster care that costs about $45 million a year.


 The head of Ohio’s Democratic Party, David Pepper, who ran against DeWine back in 2014, says legal action against drug companies should have been taken years ago.


You know I think it’s too little, too late. This is….the attorney general is the state’s chief law enforcement officer. For six years, he’s had town hall meetings, press conferences, he’s said the solutions were coming, the problem was peaking and every year it’s gotten worse.”

Pepper says the Republicans who are in charge of every branch of state government have taken money away from local governments that deal with the opioid crisis first hand every day. State officials have taken steps to crack down on opiate prescribing by requiring doses be logged in the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System and shutting down "pill mill" operations that dispensed a large number of opioids. Between 2012 and 2016, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy reports the total number of opioid doses dispensed to Ohio patients declined by 20.4 percent -- from a peak of 793 million pills. Yet opioid deaths in Ohio continue to rise, often because of heroin and fentanyl use. 


 Some of the drug companies named in the lawsuit say they can’t comment on pending litigation right now. But Jessica Castles Smith, a spokeswoman for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, one of the companies named in the suit, sent a written statement saying the allegations are both legally and factually unfounded. The statement went on to say Janssen has acted appropriately, responsible and in the best interests of patients when it comes to their FDA approved drugs.


Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
Related Content