SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The makers of OxyContin, as well as other prescription drugs that are considered potentially dangerous and addictive, are the targets of Orange County District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas, who alleged they duped doctors into believing the benefits of time-released, semi-synthetic opioids outweighed the risks.
“As District Attorney, I have the task of protecting the people of Orange County against false advertising and unfair business practices in consumer protection cases,” Rackauckas said in a Thursday statement.
Rackauckas went on to explain the basis of the suit, which is filed by Orange and Santa Clara counties.
“We have charged these pharmaceutical companies for knowingly harming public health by waging a massive campaign the dangerously addictive nature of opioids, or a class of narcotic prescription painkillers, to expand their market and profit the drugs.”
Similar to other lawsuits against tobacco companies and brought on behalf of the state itself, the suit names Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc. as defendants.
The latest generation of opium-based painkillers is said to be creating addicts and is alleged to be responsible, in part, for a recent resurgence of heroin use, according to the lawsuit.
291 opioid overdoses were recorded by the Orange County Health Care Agency in 2012, and deaths from the overdoses of prescription drugs rose from 88 in 1999 to 199 in 2012, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies are expected to argue that such drugs related to the lawsuit are regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, and that their efficacy cannot be challenged by California state law.
A spokeswoman for Janssen Pharmaceuticals told the Los Angeles Times that the company was committed fully to “responsible promotion, prescribing and use for all our medications”.
The additional drug makers did not provide immediate comments.
The Santa Clara County district attorney is also acting as a plaintiff in the consumer protection lawsuit.
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