According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, methadone treatment has a 60-90% success rate in treating opiate addiction, whereas non-medical, abstinence-based treatments have a success rate of only 5-10%. Unfortunately, thousands of Ohio families are in desperate need of any treatment for heroin and opioid addiction.
And on Wednesday, May 31st, The State of Ohio filed a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical companies accused of sparking the state’s heroin epidemic. According to National Public Radio, the five pharmaceutical companies facing the lawsuit are: Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson and Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.
Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, said in a news release that the pharmaceutical companies deliberately refrained from informing doctors and patients of the addictive nature of the drugs and the dangers of overdose.
“These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids. They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway — and they continue to do it. Despite all evidence to the contrary about the addictive nature of these pain medications, they are doing precious little to take responsibility for their actions and to tell the public the truth.”
Opiate addiction has become a national epidemic over the past decade as more and more doctors prescribed the drugs for months to years at a time. Opioids were meant to treat short-term pain because of their ability to block pain-receptors. However, because opioids release artificial endorphins in the brain, when patients take the drug over long periods of time, their brains become unable to naturally release endorphins without proper recovery. This results in a period known as “withdrawal,” which can cause depressive feelings, severe nausea, flu symptoms, extreme pain, and thoughts of suicide. This causes the patient to rely on the opioids to feel happy and relaxed, therefore causing the patient to become addicted to the drug.
And because opioid painkillers can be expensive on the black market, thousands of Americans have instead turned to the cheaper and more potent alternative: heroin.
The lawsuit filed by the State of Ohio charges the five pharmaceutical companies with violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act while additionally misleading doctors and patients of opioid risks. DeWine told NPR, “We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with pain meds that they produced, and that they did so for the purpose of increasing sales. And boy, did they increase sales.”