Ohio Takes on the Drug Companies

A hard pill to swallow

The state of Ohio is looking to stifle the escalating number of prescription drug abuse related deaths within the state. Just last year alone, in only one county in the state, 666 residents died. Ohio is blaming the rising death count on the conglomerate of drug companies that downplay the dangers involved in consuming prescription drugs. The five drug companies at the center of the initiated lawsuit are Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan. Representatives for Ohio argue that they would not have invested a large portion of the state’s funding towards prescribed medication had they known the extremely addictive nature of the drugs the companies produce.

It is hazardous for doctors to prescribe medication to their patients without fully understanding the potential risks involved, and the possibility that these drugs may lead a patient to street drug use. Unfortunately, the doctors must rely on the seemingly scientific findings supplied by the drug companies and the approval of the FDA. Until now, the drug manufacturers highlighted the supposed benefits of the drugs, and ignored the more powerful, negative side effects. OxyContin and Percocet were advertised as safe medications that did not lead to addiction. Initially, the state did not consider these statements as false advertising, and instead invested in the drug manufacturers for its government assistance health programs.

The state programs, such as Medicaid and Workers’ Compensation, suffer from the astronomical prices of the prescription drugs. Within a decade, from 2006 to 2016, Medicaid wasted $175 million on drug purchases for patients suffering from chronic discomfort. Money spent on the addictive drugs could have been better spent in other avenues of rehabilitation or health care assistance.

Other states, including Mississippi and Kentucky, have entered similar legal battles in the past few years, challenging drug manufacturers’ violations of consumer protection laws and deceitful marketing tactics. Both states settled the lawsuits with the targeted companies. It is Ohio’s intention to not only settle and gain monetary compensation, but also to decrease the addiction-related death toll in the state.