- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s health department is suing more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of worsening opioid abuse in the state.

The 57-page lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Baton Rouge district court, says the drug manufacturers used marketing tactics that misrepresent the dangers of long-term opioid usage. It accuses the companies of “an orchestrated campaign to flood Louisiana with highly-addictive and dangerous opioids” in an effort to boost their profits.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said the companies led people to believe the drugs weren’t addictive.

“As evident by the hundreds of Louisiana families that have lost loved ones due to this crisis, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said in a statement. “We intend to hold these pharmaceutical companies responsible for the lasting damage they have caused upon our people and the millions of dollars their wrongful claims have cost our state.”

Similar lawsuits have been filed by city, county and state agencies around the country amid a national overdose crisis that has killed thousands each year. The Edwards administration said lawsuits also were filed last week by local sheriffs in Avoyelles, Lafayette, Jefferson Davis and Rapides parishes.

The health department is seeking damages for payments it made for what it describes as excessive opioid prescriptions and for treatment costs tied to opioid abuse. The lawsuit also seeks to prohibit the companies from “continuing to misrepresent the risks and benefits of the use of opioids for chronic pain.”

Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said 110 prescriptions for opioids are written for every 100 Louisiana residents.

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