Getty Images

As we begin a new year, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a new lawsuit has been filed by his office against pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson.

In a release issued Thursday January Ferguson claimed:

"...Johnson & Johnson, along with several of its subsidiaries, fueled the opioid epidemic in Washington state by embarking on a massive deceptive marketing campaign and convincing doctors and the public that their drugs are effective for treating chronic pain and have a low risk of addiction, contrary to overwhelming evidence."

  "Johnson & Johnson’s aggressive marketing of opioids systematically overstated the effectiveness of the drugs for treating pain long-term and understated the risk of addiction. Johnson & Johnson marketed its opioid drugs for chronic pain conditions like headaches, low back pain and fibromyalgia, despite evidence that opioids were not effective at treating these conditions."

Ferguson claims there are 8 Washington counties who have opioid prescription numbers higher than their entire population. As for what Ferguson is seeking, according to the release:

"Ferguson’s lawsuit seeks civil penalties and damages. Ferguson also asks the court to order Johnson & Johnson to give up the profits it made in Washington as a result of its illegal conduct. It is believed that Johnson & Johnson has made billions of dollars selling its opioids and raw materials to other companies. Washington’s portion is expected to be in the millions.

In November, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay that state $465 million for its role in fueling Oklahoma’s opioid epidemic.
 
The surrendered profits will be used to remediate the effects of Johnson & Johnson’s misrepresentations of opioids, possibly funding treatment, education and more."

The suit was filed in King County Superior Court. Notice the word "possibly" in the lawsuit language. Critics of Ferguson and his string of lawsuits say it's just another method of money-grabbing by the state, and very little if any of money recovered will actually go towards fighting addiction or other such issues in WA state.