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California counties file suit against 5 large drug companies

California residents expect medical providers of all types to keep their best interests in mind when recommending treatment. Doctors, pharmacists and others who provide medications to treat ailments and symptoms are expected to understand the medication being provided and how it might impact the patient. Medical malpractice claims often cite doctors who make errors when prescribing drugs that cause patients harm or injury.

But what if medical providers are acting in good faith on information provided to them from someone else? Two counties in California are bringing up such questions in a lawsuit brought against five global drug manufacturers. According to the lawsuit, the companies are accused of deception with the purpose of increasing painkiller sales.

The suit, which is 100 pages long, claims that the drug companies manipulate patients and providers with unfair business practices and false advertising. In the suit, the drug companies are accused of encouraging insured individuals to seek narcotic pain medication from their physicians for the treatment of things such as back pain, arthritis and headaches.

The suit also alleges that the drug companies are using manipulation to convince doctors that the benefits of addictive painkillers are greater than the risks. According to the suit, this behavior is in contradiction to what the suit calls a wealth of evidence that benefits don't outweigh risks.

The companies named in the suit are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' Cephalon Inc, Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Actavis. A spokesperson from Janssen Pharmaceuticals said the company was reviewing the suit and had no other comment except that the company was committed to the responsible use and promotion of its products. According to reports, other companies have not yet made statements. It is now up to the courts to decide who exactly is at fault for mistreating these patients.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Counties sue narcotics makers, alleging 'campaign of deception'" Scott Glover and Lisa Girion, May. 21, 2014

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