(Reuters) – A California judge said on Monday that he would judge several major counties that accused four drug addicts of inciting the US opioid epidemic, saying they failed during a trial to prove their $ 50 billion case. .
Orange County Superior. Judge Peter Wilson issued a preliminary ruling in which Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Endo International PLC and AbbVie Inc.'s Allergan Unit were not responsible.
This is the first lawsuit for any pharmaceutical company in more than 3,300 lawsuits filed by states and local governments over a drug abuse crisis that the U.S. government says led to nearly 500,000 deaths from opioid overdoses over two decades.
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In August, a bankruptcy judge approved a settlement between the OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and the owners of its wealthy Sackler family of claims worth more than $ 10 billion.
During a month-long, non-jury trial, the popular the counties of Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Orange, and the city of Oakland claimed that the drug manufacturers' marketing downplayed the addictive risks of opioids and promoted them for wider uses than intended.
They claimed that advertising led to billions of painkillers flooding their communities and an increase in overdose deaths. They said companies should pay more than $ 50 billion to cover the costs of reducing the public inconvenience they created, plus penalties. to show that marketing activities led to the prescription of any medically inappropriate prescriptions.
He agreed with the companies that the epidemic could not be considered a legal general nuisance because the federal government and the state at the time had determined the benefits of medically appropriate prescriptions outweighed their harm.
"There is simply no evidence to show that the increase in prescriptions was not the result of medically appropriate provision of painkillers to patients in need," Judge Wilson wrote.
J&J said in a statement that the decision showed that its marketing was "appropriate and responsible."
Teva said in a statement that it continues to pursue a national settlement and that the verdict was a "clear win" for patients who would benefit from extensive settlements that were completed.
. They could potentially question the preliminary ruling before it becomes final. Preliminary rulings are typical of California state courts.