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DeWine details plan to fight epidemic at drugmakers’ expense

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine traveled around the state Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 providing details of his 12-point plan to combat the opioid epidemic and get drugmakers to pay for it.

“Recovery Ohio” calls for:
  • Legislation to give the governor the ability to declare a public health emergency.
  • A law enforcement data infrastructure to improve data sharing and analytics.
  • An expansion of drug task forces.
  • The creation of more drug courts.
  • More substance-use treatment options.
  • An increase in the number of critical specialists.
  • Ways to empower employers to help employees seek treatment while remaining employed.
  • Incentives to entice business owners to hire employees who are in recovery.
  • The creation of a cabinet-level position to oversee opioid programs.
  • The implementation of proven drug-prevention education in all grades and all schools.
  • The introduction of a statewide drug-prevention media campaign.
  • The expansion of early intervention programs for families and children involved in foster care.
The initiatives should be paid for by those chiefly responsible for the crisis, DeWine said. To correspond with the announcement, he sent a letter to Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan — the companies he filed suit against in May.  

The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, defrauded the state’s Medicaid and workers’ compensation systems, engaged in a pattern of corrupt activities, and created a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids.

Those actions promoted the inappropriate prescribing and use of opioids and fueled the opioid epidemic.

The Attorney General gave the companies a deadline to come forward and begin settlement solutions. 

“They must be held to account,” he said. “And I will do everything within my power to make them do that. They created this misery. They created this destruction, and I'm determined to bring them to justice by demanding they fund the extensive effort needed to clean up their mess.

“Despite making billions of dollars making these drugs, they have done comparatively little to help those with substance-use disorder or keep kids off drugs or correct the opioid overprescribing culture that they created. I'm mad. I think every Ohioan should be very mad. The more facts come out about what these drug companies have done, the more furious Ohioans will be.”

He also sent letters to drug distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and Amerisource Bergen to urge them to pay their fair share.

If the companies fail to comply with the Attorney General’s request, he said he will escalate the matter “until we get their attention.”