Drug company withdraws court motion requesting retraction of papers critical of its painkiller

A drug maker has blinked in a lawsuit against the leading anesthesiology society in the United States, along with several anesthesiology researchers, who it claims libeled the company in a series of articles and other materials critical of its main product. 

As we reported last month, Pacira Biosciences, which makes the local anesthetic agent Exparel, field the suit in federal court in April, alleging that the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the editor of its flagship journal, Anesthesiology, and others, were unfairly targeting the drug.

The company asked the court for a preliminary injunction to retract two papers and an editorial about Exparel that Anesthesiology published in February. But on May 7,  Pacira withdrew the motion, about a week after the ASA filed its own motion calling for a quick hearing on the merits of the company’s motion. 

According to an unusually forceful statement (for a medical society) from the ASA

Although Pacira started this lawsuit, ASA will not shy away from refuting Pacira’s claims and from exposing the important issues with Pacira’s controversial drug.

Pacira’s quick abandonment of its motion for preliminary injunction, an unusual move, came in response to an April 29 ASA motion, which asked the court to schedule a prompt hearing on Pacira’s injunction motion. ASA requested expedited depositions and document productions from Pacira and its witnesses to expose flaws in Pacira’s claims. ASA and its co-defendants also asked the court to let them file a full response to Pacira’s retraction motion by mid-June and return to court in mid-July for oral argument. Instead of agreeing to give ASA and the other defendants that opportunity to respond, Pacira withdrew its motion.

The main lawsuit remains ongoing.

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