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Using meds to manage pain after a work injury? A reminder about risk

This is a follow-up to a post we did a few weeks ago on the risks of prescription drugs.

Doctors often prescribe narcotic-type opioid drugs like Percocet or Oxycontin to people who are experiencing pain. This includes many people whose pain was caused by a work injury.

As we noted in our May 7 post, the fact that these drugs can be addictive is a serious concern.

In this post, we will discuss a recent lawsuit brought by two counties against five makers of these narcotic drugs, alleging that the drugs were marketed deceptively.

Neither of the counties is in Colorado; both are in California. But the issue is national in scope because narcotic painkillers have a huge market across the U.S. Drug companies have made billions of dollars on them.

The suit contends that the five companies that are named as defendants engaged in a deliberately deceitful marketing initiative designed to downplay the very real risk of addiction.

Prescribing drugs such as Vicodin or Percocet was once narrowly tailored to short-term pain, the suit contends. But it has become a commonly used tactic for dealing with chronic pain of many types.

This includes using the opioid drugs for conditions like back pain or arthritis.

The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies engaged in false advertising and wrongful competition in violation of state laws.

For purposes of this workers' compensation blog, this suit serves as a reminder that the prescription of opioid drugs after a work injury has to be handled with care.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "California Counties Sue Drugmakers Over Painkiller Abuse," John Tozzi, May 23, 2014

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Eley Law Firm
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