The County of Los Angeles and City of Oakland joined the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) and Santa Clara County Counsel in the consumer protection lawsuit over false and misleading marketing of opioids. The trial date, June 18, 2019, was also affirmed.
“The prosecution of this case just grew substantially stronger with the County of Los Angeles and the City of Oakland joining us in this fight,” stated District Attorney Tony Rauckauckas. “We must hold these pharmaceutical companies responsible for their deceptive marketing tactics because people are dying and their families are suffering. Putting profits before patients is not only dangerous, but irresponsible.”
In 2014, the OCDA and the County of Santa Clara filed a consumer protection action against five of the world’s largest manufacturers of prescription opioids for deceptive marketing practices. The lawsuit is the first of its kind filed in the United States and alleges opioid manufacturers deceptively marketed narcotic painkillers for long-term health conditions. The Complaint alleges the defendants’ deceptive marketing misled doctors and the public by minimizing the risks and overstating the benefits of opioids for chronic pain conditions. Other jurisdictions have followed the OCDA’s example and approximately 700 similar lawsuits have been filed across the United States on behalf of counties, cities, and states.
According to Orange County Health Care Agency’s 2017 report, “Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., causing more deaths than auto accidents or gun deaths. An estimated 7 of every 10 drug overdose deaths in Orange County 2011-2015 was due to opioids.” Recently, the Centers for Disease Control issued clear guidelines for prescribing and using prescription opioid painkillers for the treatment of chronic pain. These guidelines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/guidelines_at-a-glance-a.pdf and should be consulted by all doctors and patients who are considering opioid painkillers for the treatment of chronic pain. On Feb. 10, 2018, Purdue Pharma Inc., the maker of OxyContin, one of the primary drivers of the opioid epidemic as alleged in the Complaint, announced it would cut its sales force in half and cease direct marketing of opioid products to doctors going forward.
This case is People of the State of California v. Purdue Pharma, et al., Orange County Superior Court, Case No. CGC-13-534108, filed May 21, 2014. The five primary defendants are: (1) Purdue Pharma, (2) Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc; (4) Actavis, PLC; and (5) Cephalon, Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. (collectively Teva)
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Senior Deputy District Attorney Tracy Hughes are prosecuting this case for the OCDA.
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.