In a telephone interview Thursday, DeWine said he met Wednesday with representatives of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Johnson & Johnson in what he described as the first settlement meeting.
“We talked about what we considered to be the priorities,” he told cleveland.com’s Capitol Letter. “There would be prevention and education. Treatment. And the third would be the foster-care crisis. They also talked about education of doctors. Those were the four areas that were discussed.”
DeWine, a Republican who is running for governor, in October publicly called for the defendants to settle the case, which he filed in May in Ross County – an area hit hard by the epidemic.
In the lawsuit, DeWine argues that the drug companies understated the risks of prescription opioids and overstated the benefits.
OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma did not attend the settlement meeting, which DeWine called a shame.
Bob Josephson, a Purdue spokesman, said the company sent DeWine a letter in late November saying that it is in discussions with a number of states that claim they are struggling with an opioids epidemic. Ohio left those talks when it filed suit.
“Our whole goal here is to try to get help as soon as possible for people who are suffering in Ohio,” DeWine said. “What I said initially when we sued them was they created the mess they should be involved in helping clean it up.”
DeWine also said Thursday that he’s going to attend the next meeting, which will be Jan. 31, in a Cleveland federal court where U.S. District Judge Dan Polster is presiding over 200 government lawsuits against Big Pharma, distributors and doctors.
DeWine said he spoke to Polster on Wednesday and decided to attend, although that doesn’t necessarily mean Ohio will join any of those actions.
Polster on Tuesday told parties in the lawsuits that they need to settle.
“I think the judge is absolutely right in what he said in court that if possible there needs to be a global settlement , a global solution,” DeWine said. “The judge was reaching out to us in other states, with that in mind.”