TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - "Every citizen in the state of Ohio should be mad."
Using Northwest Ohio as his backdrop, Attorney General Mike DeWine made two big announcements at the Toledo Police Headquarters.
One; a 12-step plan to get ahead of the deadly heroin epidemic and two; explain the lawsuit he filed on behalf of the state of Ohio against five large pharmaceutical companies.
"So they misled doctors. They caused a lot of this problem and they failed to do anything to try to elevate the problem. Very very little of anything," said DeWine.
DeWine said suing the drug companies for damages would take the burden off of taxpayers to fight this epidemic.
"I see this as an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to help us in enforcement, education and prevention. I think it's very important we move forward with that," said Sheriff John Tharp with the Lucas County Sheriff's Department.
Several of the 12 action steps DeWine outlined include, passing legislation that let's the Governor of Ohio declare a public health emergency statewide or in specific areas. In addition, create at least 60 more drug courts and to create a special position within the governor's office with the sole purpose of fighting the opioid epidemic.
"The push to decriminalize it was so that we can make sure we can somehow maybe get these people who are addicted the treatment they need so that they can be healthy," said TPD Chief George Kral.
DeWine applauded what the local enforcement has done, but stresses going after pharmaceutical companies is a critical step.
Using existing capacity at hospitals to help battle the opioid epidemic is an action step the Attorney General outlined.
The goal is to double the substance abuse treatment capacities in Ohio.
DeWine explained there is existing space in hundreds of hospitals around Ohio which can be used.
He said current reimbursement rules don't allow most of the capacity in hospitals to be used for treatment.
One local hospital system agrees.
"Reimbursement models obviously impact who can provide services as well as the level of those services we're able to provide. His efforts to change some of those initiative obviously will assist being able to provide those services," said Craig Albers/President & COO, Mercy Health St. Charles
Until any changes like this happen, hospitals will continue to work with community health agencies to help battle the opioid epidemic in our community.