City of Columbus files suit against drug companies, claiming damages from opioid epidemic

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The city of Columbus has filed a lawsuit against 25 drug companies, calling the opioid addiction epidemic “the result of a well-developed marketing scheme…to sell opioids for the treatment of chronic pain.”

The lawsuit filed by Columbus in federal court Friday names the three major drug distributors including suburban Columbus-based Cardinal Health and five drug manufacturers.

The lawsuit claims Columbus “has suffered significant harm and damages, including, but not limited to, the breakdown of families, increased health insurance costs, increased police and fire usage, increased usage of the criminal justice system and other significant harms. Columbus also is faced with a significant addiction problem it must abate and remedy.”

Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and the state of Ohio have filed similar lawsuits.Click here to read the entire lawsuit. 

Several companies sent NBC4 statement in response to the lawsuit’s announcement Friday night.

William Foster, spokesperson for Janssen Pharmaceuticals:

Responsibly used opioid-based pain medicines give doctors and patients important choices to help manage the debilitating effects of chronic pain. At the same time, we recognize opioid abuse and addiction is a serious public health issue that must be addressed. We believe the allegations in lawsuits against our company are both legally and factually unfounded.  Janssen has acted in the best interests of patients and physicians with regard to its opioid pain medicines, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about possible risks on every product label. According to independent surveillance data, Janssen opioid pain medicines consistently have some of the lowest rates of abuse among these medications, and since 2008 the volume of Janssen opioid products always has amounted to less than one percent of the total prescriptions written per year for opioid medications, including generics.  Addressing opioid abuse will require collaboration among many stakeholders and we will continue to work with federal, state and local officials to support solutions.

Denise Bradley, spokesperson for SVP Corporation Reputation:

Teva is committed to the appropriate use of opioid medicines, and we recognize the critical public health issues impacting communities across the U.S. as a result of illegal drug use as well as the misuse and abuse of opioids that are available legally by prescription. To that end, we take a multi-faceted approach to this complex issue;  we work to educate communities and healthcare providers on appropriate medicine use and prescribing, we comply closely with all relevant federal and state regulations regarding these medicines, and, through our R&D pipeline, we are developing non-opioid treatments that have the potential to bring relief to patients in chronic pain. Teva offers extensive resources for prescribers, patients and pharmacists regarding the responsible pain management and prevention of prescription drug abuse. Teva also collaborates closely with other stakeholders, including providers and prescribers, regulators, public health officials and patient advocates, to understand how to prevent prescription drug abuse without sacrificing patients’ needed access to pain medicine.

A spokeswoman with Cardinal Health also released this statement:

As a longstanding and involved member of the Columbus community, we are disappointed that the City chose to file this copycat lawsuit. While we do not believe litigation is the solution to this problem, we will defend ourselves vigorously against this baseless lawsuit.

 The people of Cardinal Health care deeply about opioid abuse and addiction. We believe there is an urgent need to work towards real and meaningful solutions, right now!  We are actively engaged in solving this complex public health crisis and saving lives. This is why we launched our new Opioid Action Program last month, which augments our already substantial efforts to combat opioid abuse, including the significant investment in state-of-the-art controls to effectively combat the diversion of pain medications from legitimate uses.

 Thousands of Cardinal Health employees are passionately committed to helping make their city a better place to live and they voluntarily give of their time and resources to this community every single day.

Columbus City Council President and Columbus City Attorney-Elect Zach Klein released this statement:

Today, the City of Columbus filed a lawsuit in federal court against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and certain key opinion leaders regarding their involvement and participation in creating our current opioid epidemic. It is true that we attempted to work with certain named defendants to resolve this matter independent of litigation, but we didn’t have a willing partner. We have a duty to the citizens of our city, as well as those children, families, and friends who are negatively affected by the promotion of opioids. Our goal is, and will always will be, fighting to help those families and kids whose lives are impacted.

Keep checking NBC4i.com for real-time updates on this story. To get alerts for breaking news, grab the free NBC4 News App for iPhone or Android. You can also sign up for email alerts.

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