On CBS News’ ‘60 Minutes’ on Sunday, Governor-elect Mike DeWine said drug makers and distributors of powerful prescription painkillers knew their business tactics were hurting Ohioans.
“If they didn’t know it the first couple years, they clearly would’ve seen it after that. You can’t miss it. When one year we had close to a billion— a billion pain meds prescribed in the state of Ohio, you know, 69 per man, woman, and child in the state. And that lies at the feet of the drug companies. They’re the ones who did that,” he said.
DeWine appeared in a segment about Mike Moore, the former attorney general of Mississippi who is now handling lawsuits filed by Ohio and other jurisdictions against the industry. Moore led the charge 25 years ago to win a $250 billion settlement against Big Tobacco and later pressured BP Oil to agree to a settlement over its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Moore and DeWine said on 60 Minutes that industry sales data, released in response to a federal court order, are crucial to the case.
The show aired Sunday night on WHIO-TV Channel 7
“I’m not allowed to talk about the specifics. But I will simply tell you it’s shocking,” DeWine told 60 Minutes. “Anyone who was looking at those numbers, as those middlemen were, as these distributors were, clearly, clearly should’ve seen that something was dramatically wrong.”
On the campaign trail, DeWine said the pharmaceutical industry should help pay for the costs of the recovery initiatives.
In May 2017 Ohio filed suit against five drug makers: Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Allergan. The suit, filed in Ross County Common Pleas Court, claims the companies violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, committed Medicaid fraud, created a public nuisance and violated the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act.
As a candidate for governor, DeWine also pledged to create at least 60 more specialized drug courts, expand drug task force models, expand early intervention programs that target Ohio families and children in foster care, double substance abuse treatment capacity, and institute drug prevention education in all schools.
The opiate crisis will be one of the biggest challenges facing the DeWine administration. Statewide about $1 billion is spent in tax dollars annually to address the opioid epidemic, including treatment, law enforcement and prevention.