Ohio sues drug companies over opioids

DENVER -- Ohio is suing at least five of the largest drugmakers in the country.

They are the makers of Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin and other opioids that Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine said were sold and marketed as nonaddictive.

Dewine calls them the spark that lead to the opioid epidemic.

Even though other states have filed suit against the same companies, Dewine said Ohio has been hit particularly hard, saying it is overwhelming some of the states smallest and poorest communities.

Colorado State Rep. Brittany Petersen is like many other Coloradans with loved ones battling addictions.

For 29 years, her mother relied on opioid medication and in recent years turned to heroin. Petersen has been an advocate against overprescribing and believes something needs to be done.

"I think we need to take every action and every step possible to address this issue," Petersen said. "I think it's well documented that pharmaceutical companies knew how addictive these drugs were and unfortunately they were pushed on doctors to overprescribed now we find ourselves in this situation in Colorado."

The Ohio lawsuit alleges the drug companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids. Petersen believes the problem isn't isolated to just Ohio.

"This is an epidemic, a public health crisis," Petersen said.

Although the state is seeking unspecified damages, Dewine said opioid addiction is costing hundreds of millions of dollars for medicaid and police and fire services all across the state.