Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is taking the state’s fight against the opioid epidemic through the court system. On Wednesday, Hawley filed a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court against three pharmaceutical companies, alleging that these companies fraudulently and deliberately misrepresented the addictive risks of opioids. Named in the suit are Purdue Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Attorney General Josh Hawley

Hawley announced this lawsuit during a press conference outside of the court house in downtown St. Louis, calling it one of the “largest lawsuits filed in the history of the state.”

“Our state faces an urgent public-health crisis brought on by fraud. These companies have profited from the suffering of Missourians,” Hawley said. “Today, we begin to fight to put an end to this crisis as we fight for the thousands of lives endangered and lost to the opioid epidemic.” Hawley added.

Hawley said the drug companies named in the suit “carried out a complex, multi-year campaign of fraud.”

“They used bogus front organizations and fake research. They used fraudulent advertising and deceptive trade practices, and they have repeatedly lied about the risks and true nature of the drugs they have sold.” Hawley explained.

Hawley said the lawsuit seeks one of the largest judgments in the state’s history, with “hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and hundreds of millions more in civil penalties.”

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals haven’t responded to a request for comment.

By Missourinet contributor Jill Enders