SANTA CLARA (KCBS) – Santa Clara and Orange counties have filed a lawsuit accusing five drug companies of waging a campaign of deception to boost the sales of painkillers behind the nation’s prescription drug addiction problem.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court, alleging false advertising, unfair competition and creating a public nuisance.
Santa Clara County Lead Deputy Counsel Greta Hansen said that the drugs are highly addictive and have even contributed to the recent rise in heroine addiction in the U.S.
“These drugs are more expensive than heroin. So when folks become addicted to opioids, often the consequence is that they then transition from use of prescription opioids into using street heroin,” she said.
The five companies are Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc.
Much like the legal attack on tobacco companies two decades ago by many states, the current lawsuit accuses the drug companies of making misleading and false claims about the safety of products consumed annually by millions of Americans.
Santa Clara Assistant County Counsel Danny Chou said they are seeking restitution for consumers but said “this lawsuit in no way will prevent doctors from prescribing opioid pain killers for appropriate uses.”
KCBS reached out all the five of the companies named in the lawsuit; most had no comment but Janssen Pharmaceuticals said in the statement that “we are committed to responsible promotion, prescribing and use of all of our medictions.”
The lawsuit seeks to stop the marketing campaigns by the companies and demands unspecified damages.
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