Illinois sues pharmaceutical companies over opioid crisis, claiming deceptive marketing campaigns

CHICAGO -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has filed a lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, alleging they carried out "unfair and deceptive" marketing campaigns contributing to the opioid crisis.

Raoul said Wednesday that the opioid manufacturers and distributors "selfishly and irresponsibly sacrificed the health and safety of Illinois residents" for financial gain.

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The lawsuit filed in Cook County names four pharmaceutical companies including Endo, Teva and Allergan, along with several distributors. Johnson & Johnson says the opioid crisis is a complex public health issue and is working to find ways to help. The other companies didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

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Separately, Illinois was among several states that sued OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma earlier this year.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 18,000 people in Illinois died from opioid overdoses from 1997 to 2017.

Earlier this week, Illinois and the city of Chicago are receiving nearly $38 million in federal grants to fight the opioid epidemic.

RELATED: Illinois, Chicago receive $38M to fight opioid epidemic

Sen. Dick Durbin said the money will address "one of the worst drug epidemics in our history." He said the money will help those on the front lines of battling addiction and overdose in Illinois communities.

Durbin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth said the Health and Human Services Department is providing the state $29 million. The Centers for Disease Control is giving the Illinois Department of Public Health more than $5.6 million and Chicago's Public Health Department $3.3 million.

Duckworth said "the opioid epidemic has taken far too many lives, and resolving this crisis requires a comprehensive effort from officials at every level of government as well as from local organizations."
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