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A federal judge has dismissed an unusual libel lawsuit brought by Pacira BioSciences (PCRX) that claimed a medical journal, its editor, and several authors published articles that were based on “faulty scientific research” that portrayed its only medicine as ineffective.

Pacira alleged the papers, which were published early last year in the journal Anesthesiology, reflected a “bias” against its Exparel painkiller and “disparaged” the drug, as we noted at the time. Exparel is used after surgeries, although is not an opioid. As a result, the company contended customers canceled contracts or declined to purchase the drug, or considered removing it from hospital formularies.


The lawsuit generated attention because of the unusual nature of the allegations against a medical journal, a place where scientific uncertainty about therapies is typically debated. In a subsequent court filing, the American Society of Anesthesiologists fought back by arguing the lawsuit was nothing more than an attempt to “squelch legitimate scientific criticism of its marquee product.”

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