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Orange, Santa Clara counties sue narcotics makers for 'campaign of deception' (updated)

Morphine and oxycodone (the active ingredient in Oxycontin) are strong narcotic pain relievers on their own.
Morphine and oxycodone (the active ingredient in Oxycontin) are strong narcotic pain relievers on their own.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Orange and Santa Clara counties are suing five of the world's largest narcotics manufacturers, accusing them of promoting "highly addictive" painkillers through a "campaign of deception," reports the LA Times.

Drugs referred to in the lawsuit include OxyContin and Percocet. The suit alleges that "defendants seized on anecdotal amounts of opioid use to treat chronic pain to begin a reeducating campaign about opioids."

The Times reports: 

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.

Painkillers are involved in more than 16,000 deaths each year, according to the Times.

KPCC reached out to the companies accused in the suit.

In an email to KPCC, Purdue Pharma responded, "We’ve received no complaint from the counties and, as such, have no comment."

A representative for Actavis wrote that the company would not comment on pending litigation.

You can read the lawsuit and full report here

This story has been updated.