‘Campaign of Deception’ — Is it Time to Sue Marijuana Industry?

Campaign of deception is marijuana playbook.
The time will soon be here when lawsuits against marijuana’s Big Farma will be headline news.

The following article reports a lawsuit filed by California counties against pharmaceutical companies for deceptive advertising, unfair business practices and creating a public nuisance.

Before considering getting into the ganjapreneur game, substitute “marijuana” in the following article for “narcotic” and consider if your business plan has enough in reserves for your legal defense and subsequent penalties.

The same theories that applied to Big Tobacco, are being applied in this case to Big Pharma, can and should be applied against the burgeoning marijuana industry–Big Farma.

Pot growers, manufacturers, dispensaries, “doctors”, and any others who are complicit in the commission of another campaign of deception that results in the creation of a “population of addicts” should similarly be held accountable.

It is just a matter of time before this type of litigation begins. When it does, we will finally see the party start to end for the pro-pot lobbyists who are in league with coerced politicians and an ill-informed public. Perhaps the courts can do what the politicians will not. That’s the lesson we learned from big tobacco litigation.


Counties sue narcotics makers, alleging ‘campaign of deception’

By Scott Glover, Lisa Girion’

LA Times, May 21, 2104

Two California counties sued five of the world’s largest narcotics manufacturers on Wednesday, accusing the companies of causing the nation’s prescription drug epidemic by waging a “campaign of deception” aimed at boosting sales of potent painkillers such as OxyContin.

Officials from Orange and Santa Clara counties — both hit hard by overdose deaths, emergency room visits and escalating medical costs associated with prescription narcotics — contend the drug makers violated California laws against false advertising, unfair business practices and creating a public nuisance.

In sweeping language reminiscent of the legal attack against the tobacco industry, the lawsuit alleges the drug companies have reaped blockbuster profits by manipulating doctors into believing the benefits of narcotic painkillers outweighed the risks, despite “a wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary.” The effort “opened the floodgates” for such drugs and “the result has been catastrophic,” the lawsuit contends.

The complaint accuses the companies of encouraging patients, including well-insured veterans and the elderly, to ask their doctors for the painkillers to treat common conditions such as headaches, arthritis and back pain.

The widespread prescribing of narcotics has created “a population of addicts” and triggered a resurgence in the use of heroin, which produces a similar high to opiate-based painkillers, but is cheaper, the suit says.

In Orange County, where the lawsuit alleges there is a painkiller-related death every other day, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said he decided to pursue the case “as a matter of public protection.”

The primary goal, Rackauckas said in an interview, is “to stop the lies about what these drugs do.”

The 100-page lawsuit brought on behalf of the entire state seeks compensation for the damages allegedly caused by the drugs, as well as a court order forcing the companies to forfeit revenue based on the contested marketing campaign.

Named in the suit are: Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries’ Cephalon Inc.

“We’re committed to responsible promotion, prescribing and use of all our medications,” said Robyn Reed Frenze, a spokeswoman for Janssen Pharmaceuticals. She said her company was reviewing the case and had no further comment at this time.

Representatives for the other drug makers either declined to comment or were not immediately available Wednesday afternoon.

Robert Fellmeth, a University of San Diego School of Law professor and former deputy district attorney, says he expects the manufacturers to challenge the counties’ authority over federally regulated drugs.

But Fellmeth, who served as an expert witness in the tobacco litigation and helped write the unfair business practices law, says the case is precisely what the statute was designed for.

“California is suffering disproportionately from this problem, so it is appropriate for this state to take up this hammer,” he said.

Twenty years ago, the narcotics industry was hemmed in by a small market because the long-held fear of addiction stopped doctors from prescribing powerful painkillers for anything but cancer pain and end-of-life suffering. To expand their market, the drug companies engaged in a dishonest campaign that “reeducated” doctors and revolutionized the treatment of pain associated with a wider array of aliments, the suit alleges.