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Oklahoma Attorney General sues 4 drug manufacturers over opioid addiction

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is suing more than a dozen manufacturers of opioid pain medication, alleging that deceptive marketing campaigns by the drug-makers have fueled Oklahoma’s opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Cleveland County District Court alleges the manufacturers deceived and manipulated Oklahomans into believing opioids were safe for use over an extended period.

Hunter says thousands of people have died and the state and citizens have spent millions of dollars on unnecessary opioid prescriptions. Hunter says that by 2009 the number of opioid-related deaths in Oklahoma was higher than the number of people killed in auto crashes.

In April, the Cherokee Nation sued distributors and retailers of opioids, alleging they contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse.”

Similar lawsuits have been filed in three other states.

“We recognize opioid abuse is a serious public health issue that must be addressed. At the same time, we firmly believe Janssen has acted responsibly and in the best interests of patients and physicians with regard to these medicines, which are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about possible risks on every product label. Janssen is committed to providing healthcare professionals with complete and accurate information on how to prescribe our opioid medications, which give doctors and patients important choices to help manage the debilitating effects of chronic pain, and we are continuing to work with stakeholders to support their safe and appropriate use.” – William Foster, spokesperson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.