Kentucky AG Beshear files lawsuit to block pension bill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a fifth lawsuit in his effort to hold drug manufacturers accountable for the state's opioid epidemic. 

The lawsuit was filed April 18 in McCracken Circuit Court against Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiaries, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Ortho-McNeil. Beshear says the companies used "a deceptive marketing scheme" to generate higher profits from three opioid-based drugs: Duragesic, Nucynta and Nucynta ER. 

According to the suit, Janssen allegedly told doctors and patients that its opioid medications were safer than other alternatives, and falsely stated that opioids were “rarely addictive” when used for chronic pain.

The suit also states that the company targeted elderly patients because the company knew there was a higher risk of addiction, adverse effects, hospitalization and death.

Overall sales of prescription drugs in general in Kentucky skyrocketed from 2006 to 2015, and during that time the state "had more opioid prescriptions than people." Beshear says that's about the same time Janssen was misrepresenting the dangers of becoming addicted to its drugs. 

"Today’s action against Janssen is the fifth lawsuit I have filed in our ongoing fight to combat the state’s opioid epidemic,” Beshear said in a statement.

"Janssen has profited from their illegal conduct, and my office is taking action to make sure they pay for ravaging our communities and destroying our families just to make a profit."

The lawsuit asks for civil penalties and compensatory and punitive damages from Johnson and Johnson and subsidiaries.

Several other states have filed suit against Janssen including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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