As reported in the L.A. Times, “A judge halted a government lawsuit Thursday against five of the world’s largest narcotics manufacturers in spite of an impassioned plea by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas that the companies pay for the damages of a prescription drug epidemic. The ruling came in a suit filed last year by Orange and Santa Clara counties accusing [OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma] of fraudulently marketing addictive painkillers to undermine the effect of warning labels required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The counties say that the efforts boosted sales of the dangerous drugs at the expense of public health. The companies say that the claims are unfounded. In Thursday’s hearing before Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Moss, the companies asked that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the FDA had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has called the rise in opioid abuse an epidemic. This class of drugs now directly causes three out of four prescription drug deaths, and likely contributes to many more. In 2012, the number of deaths from these painkillers was 16,000, four times greater than in 1999.
A L.A. Times investigation published in 2012 found that nearly half of the deaths involving prescription drugs in Southern California from 2006 through 2011 involved at least one drug prescribed by a doctor.
“The FDA is not going to help us with this,” Rackauckas said. “This is a plague on our society. The suffering goes on day in and day out.”
If anything, the FDA is only encouraging the problem, by most recently approving OxyContin for use in kids, which many have said is simply a recipe for disaster.