LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - On Friday, Oklahoma's Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies.
The lawsuit claims the companies marketed their opioid painkillers as "safe" for chronic pain management while downplaying the risks of opioid dependency. Attorney General Mike Hunter said more than 3,000 people overdosed in Oklahoma over the last three years.
He's calling it a catastrophic situation and is asking for a jury trial.But apparently not everyone agrees.
Tommy Price said the blame should be put on the doctors, not the pharmaceutical companies, because the doctors are the ones prescribing the drugs and not monitoring the patients who use them.
Price has been the Director of Premiere Behavioral Health Counseling for 5 years. The program's goal is to make sure people get the help and resources they need when it comes to mental health illnesses, and drug and alcohol addiction.
While his office doesn't treat as many patients for opioid painkiller addiction, he says the drugs lead to a troubled path.
"You can die, you can kill yourself you are out there and doing all kinds of crazy stuff, stealing from family, friends, it doesn't matter...prostituting your body it doesn't matter anything that you can get money to purchase opioids and other drugs is being done. It tears up many, many families," said Price.
Price said these days it's too easy for people to become addicted.
"They go from place to place, to place getting the prescription.."Doctor A, Doctor B and they can get the opioids, but not just opioid any drugs," said Price.
"I feel that are not monitored and its not for the pharmaceutical company to monitored its for the doctors to do. They need to keep tabs on how many pills am I giving them, how many pills is he taking, are you making him bring the empty bottle back so we can count and see and I think that's where the harm comes in they are not being monitored its just too easy to get," Price said.
In the lawsuit, Attorney General Mike Hunter said as many as one in four people who were prescribed opioids for long-term pain now struggle with addiction. He says in addition to loss of life, the epidemic has cost the state a pretty penny.
"These companies have made an excess of 10-billion dollars a year, while creating a generation of Oklahomans who have become addicts, convicts, or who meet their death from opioid overdoses," said Hunter.
According to the lawsuit, the attorney general wants the drug companies to pay both actual and punitive damages. Three other states have filed similar lawsuits.