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Kentucky attorney general files fifth opioid lawsuit

April 18, 2018 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general has filed a fifth lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company for deceptive marketing of opioid-based painkillers.

Andy Beshear says he has filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries Ortho-McNeil and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. Beshear says the companies claimed the opioid drugs were “rarely addictive” when used for chronic pain.

Janssen spokeswoman Jessica Castles Smith said the companies’ marketing practices were “appropriate and responsible.” She called Beshear’s allegations “baseless and unsubstantiated.”

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Beshear has also sued Endo Pharmaceuticals, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation. Together, Beshear said those companies supplied 85 percent of opioid-based prescription painkillers in Kentucky.

From 2006 to 2015, Beshear said Kentucky had more opioid prescriptions than people and the state had the sixth-highest number of opioid-related deaths in the country.