The state’s lawsuit accuses the firms — Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Purdue Pharma, Endo and Cephalon — of “borrowing a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook” and downplaying the risks of using powerful drugs like OxyContin and Percocet.

Image: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine at a news conference in Columbus, Ohio on May 31, 2017.Brooke LaValley / The Columbus Dispatch via AP

“We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans — our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our kids — addicted to opioid pain medications,” Attorney General Mike DeWine declared. “These drug manufacturers knew what they were doing was wrong, but they continued to do it anyway.”

By minimizing the risk of addiction, they helped create “a population of patients physically and psychologically dependent on them,” the suit states. “And when those patients can no longer afford or legitimately obtain opioids, they often turn to the street to buy prescription opioids or even heroin.”

The result, DeWine said, “is a human tragedy of epic proportions, ripping families apart.”

“Opioids have become the main source of unintentional drug overdose in the state,” the suit contends.

Related: Attorney General Sessions Heading to West Virginia, Epicenter of U.S. Opioid Epidemic

Ohio is the second state, after Mississippi, to go directly after Big Pharma. DeWine accused the drug makers of violating multiple state laws, including the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act, and of committing Medicaid fraud.

9 million painkillers shipped to tiny West Virginia town