Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Israel's largest company, is being sued by two California counties for being responsible for an increase in addictions to pain killers over the last twenty years.
The suit by California's Orange and Santa Clara counties against Teva's Cephalon Inc. subsidiary and five other companies was filed in the California Superior Court last week, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Also named in the suit were Actavis, Endo Health Solutions Inc., Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma.
The suit accuses the pharmaceutical industry of deliberately promoting the use of prescription pain killers for everyday use in the treatment of simple back pain, arthritis and other conditions, though they were intended as short-term treatments for temporary pain resulting from severe injuries or operations.
It alleges a common, sophisticated and deeply deceptive marketing campaign to  reverse the popular and medical understanding of opioids.
In order to put money in their pockets, [the companies] have done serious harm to many thousands of people, Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas told the Los Angeles Times.
The plaintiffs, who maintain that the companies violated state laws and were guilty of false advertising, seek an unspecified amount for damages and compensation. They also want the companies to be barred from making any more misleading claims about their products.
Teva, which produces the pain killer Actiq, declined to comment on the law suit.
Robert Fellmeth, a University of San Diego School of Law professor and former deputy district attorney, said he expected the manufacturers to challenge the counties' authority over federally regulated drugs.
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