Prosecution of false advertising, online sale of prescription drugs sought

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – False advertising and rampant online sale of prescription drugs have triggered moves to prosecute companies behind the illegal activities blamed for the rising number of opioid addicts and deaths from such addiction in the U.S.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc. on May 21. The Santa Clara County also filed a similar lawsuit in behalf of the state of California.

The two counties accused the said companies of spending millions of dollars to convince patients that painkillers should be taken for chronic pain.

“What we’re after is to make these companies stop the practice of false advertising and false claims that these drugs are benign. The effort is to require them to be truthful,” Rackauckas said, according to the Orange County Register.

The lawsuit claimed that companies “overstated the benefits of using opioids long-term to treat chronic non-cancer pain, promising improvement in patients’ function and quality of life.” It added that the pharmaceutical firms “dismissed or minimized the serious risks and adverse outcomes of chronic opioid use, including the risk of addiction, overdose, and death.”

“The truth is, there is no scientific evidence these painkillers offer long-term pain relief for non-cancer pain, and they have a serious risk of addiction and abuse,” Danny Chou, Santa Clara County assistant counsel, told NBC.

Sara Cody, public health officer of Santa Clara County, also said the drugs are now over-prescribed because of the deceptive marketing strategy.

“That has led to misuse, and now we have a rampant epidemic in the US,” Cody said.

Every day, drugs are being sold online without the safety of prescriptions and the guidance of doctors.

In an article published by Slate.com, writer and physician Ford Vox narrated how his wife ended with a prescription gel for acne from Thailand.

Vox said his wife was looking for an acne treatment on Amazon.com and came across Vitara Clinda Gel. But when it arrived on her doorstep and read the label, she realized it is made of clindamycin, a prescription drug.

Vox’s further searches on the e-commerce site revealed a number of other prescription drugs for sale without a prescription. He said that such drugs “warrant careful oversight to avoid complications or endangering public health, such as by breeding antibiotic resistance.”

The LegalExaminer.com said the Customs and International Bar Association should find ways and take steps to prosecute websites that engage in illegal sales of prescription drugs.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16,651 people died in 2010 due to overdosing on opioid painkillers. It is said to be twice the number of deaths attributed to cocaine and heroin use.

The easy access to prescription drugs and opioids resulted in at least 2.5 million Americans becoming dependent on them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than half of their survey respondents were able to get prescription drugs for free from a friend or a relative.

With opioids becoming the third most abused substance in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, health officials continue to look for ways to curb and address the addiction. One of these is a therapy that involves the use of anti-addiction medication.

Because of the difficulty of keeping people off the drugs, opioid antagonists like naltrexone are being tapped by health solutions companies like BioCorRx Inc. (BICX, http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=BICX).

BioCorRx’s Start Fresh Program uses both naltrexone implants and life coaching to help patients rid of their dependence on painkillers or prescription drugs. The company claims they have a very high success rate for patients who go through the six-month life coaching phase.

Naltrexone has long been used to address cravings for addictive substances by blocking the part of the brain that “feels pleasure” after the intake of alcohol or drugs. In implant form, it is able to last for at least six months in most people, keeping the patients sober while addressing the psycho-social aspect of their addiction.

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