California Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Big Pharma

By Victoria Kim 09/02/15

Despite the setback, two more suits in Chicago and Kentucky are still pending.

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A lawsuit filed by two California counties seeking damages for the prescription drug epidemic from Big Pharma has been put on hold indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Moss dismissed the case, filed by Orange and Santa Clara counties last year, to allow the FDA to complete a pending inquiry into the safety and efficacy of painkillers.

The lawsuit alleges the companies—Actavis, Endo Health Solutions (maker of Percocet and Percodan), Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, (maker of OxyContin), and Cephalon—knowingly violated California laws by falsely advertising their products, manipulating doctors into thinking that the benefits of prescription narcotics outweighed the risks, and leading many doctors across Southern California to prescribe drugs that led to fatal overdoses.

According to a Los Angeles Times investigation published in 2012, nearly half of the deaths involving prescription drugs in Southern California from 2006 to 2011 involved at least one drug prescribed by a doctor. The Times identified 71 Southern California doctors, including several from Orange County, who prescribed drugs to three or more patients who fatally overdosed.

“We are pleased that Judge Moss agreed that complex scientific issues regarding the treatment of chronic pain are best decided by the FDA, the agency with relevant expertise,” Purdue Pharma said in a statement. The company had argued that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the FDA had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told the Los Angeles Times that he was disappointed and considering an appeal. While the California case has been put on hold, similar suits filed by Chicago and Kentucky are still in motion.

Last month, the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics paid out $1.1 million for their role in aggressively marketing a fentanyl-based narcotic pain reliever in Oregon. The company was required to pay $533,000 to the state of Oregon and $567,000 to a non-profit organization to help prevent opioid abuse.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr