Ohio Sues Drug Makers Over Opioid Crisis

In Healthcare, States On

In 2015, more than 25,000 people in the United States died in 2015 from overdosing on opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, more than twice as many as a decade earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The drugs, either derived from opium or synthetic analogs of those narcotics, now kill more Americans than homicide, and are approaching traffic accidents as a cause of death.

Middle-aged white men suffer disproportionately from opioid abuse, and the states with the highest overdose tolls are Ohio, Kentucky, New Hampshire and West Virginia.

The drugs were once used primarily for acute, or short-term pain, but over the last two decades, doctors have increasingly prescribed them to treat chronic pain, giving them to patients for months or years at a stretch. Drug makers promoted that change, Mr. DeWine charged in his suit, spending “millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”

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