May 31 (UPI) -- Ohio's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry for its role in the ongoing opioid crisis.
The suit, filed Wednesday by Attorney General Mike DeWine, names five drugmakers: Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Johnson & Johnson and Allergan.
The state accuses the companies of misleading doctors and patients about the risks and benefits of opioids, leading to drug addictions, overdoses and deaths of thousands of Ohio residents. The suit seeks to recover money the state spent purchasing drugs and funding addiction recovery programs.
"We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans -- our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our kids -- addicted to opioid pain medications, which has all too often led to use of the cheaper alternatives of heroin and synthetic opioids," DeWine said in a released statement. "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."
According to the suit, drugmakers misled consumers about the dangers of opioids in medical journal ads and through false statements made by drug sales reps.
The lawsuit also alleges the listed pharmaceutical companies used "front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain formulations of opioids."
Ohio isn't the first state to sue drug companies over the ongoing opioid epidemic. Both West Virginia and Mississippi have lodged similar lawsuits. Mississippi's suit is still pending, but West Virginia reached a multi-million dollar settlement with a group of major drug distributors. Several other states are considering litigation.
"We are in ongoing discussions with attorneys general about what can only be described as a national epidemic," Michael P. Canty, a lawyer with New York-based firm Labaton Sucharow, told The New York Times.
The most addictive and powerful opioids include fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodon. More than 15,000 people died from overdoses of the three drugs in 2015.
In a released statement, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, described itself as "an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology."
"We share the attorney general's concerns about the opioid crisis and we are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions," the drugmaker said.