California arms pharma trade first win in US opioid case

California counties argued that drugmakers’ advertising downplayed opioids’ addictive dangers however choose mentioned ‘no evidence’.

A California choose has mentioned he would rule in opposition to a number of giant counties that accused 4 drug producers of accelerating the US opioid epidemic, saying they failed throughout a trial to show their $50bn case.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson on Monday issued a tentative ruling discovering Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Endo International PLC and AbbVie Inc’s Allergan unit not liable.

It marked the primary trial win for any pharmaceutical firm within the greater than 3,300 lawsuits filed by states and native governments over a drug abuse disaster that the US authorities says led to nearly 500,000 opioid overdose deaths over 20 years.

The ruling got here as J&J and the three largest US drug distributors – McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen – work to finalise a proposed deal to pay as much as $26bn to settle the hundreds of circumstances in opposition to them.

A chapter choose in August authorised a settlement by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its rich Sackler household house owners of the claims in opposition to them that the corporate values at greater than $10bn.

‘No evidence’

During a months-long, non-jury trial, the populous Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Orange counties and town of Oakland argued the drugmakers’ advertising downplayed opioids’ addictive dangers and promoted them for broader makes use of than supposed.

They argued the promoting led to billions of ache drugs flooding their communities and an increase in overdose deaths. They mentioned the businesses ought to pay greater than $50bn to cowl the prices of abating the general public nuisance they created, plus penalties.

But Wilson mentioned even when the drugmakers’ advertising contained any deceptive statements, the counties put ahead no proof to point out that their promotional actions triggered any medically inappropriate prescriptions to be written.

He agreed with the businesses that the epidemic couldn’t be thought-about a authorized public nuisance as a result of the federal authorities and the state had on the time decided the advantages of medically applicable prescriptions outweighed their harms.

“There is simply no evidence to show that the rise in prescriptions was not the result of the medically appropriate provision of pain medications to patients in need,” Wilson wrote.

J&J in an announcement mentioned the choice confirmed its advertising was “appropriate and responsible.” John Hueston, Endo’s lawyer, mentioned it demonstrated his consumer’s “lawful conduct did not cause the widespread public nuisance at issue in plaintiffs’ complaint.”

Teva in an announcement mentioned it continues to pursue a nationwide settlement framework and that the ruling was a “clear win” for sufferers who would profit from complete settlements being finalised.

Representatives for the California plaintiffs didn’t reply to requests for remark. They might probably problem the tentative ruling earlier than it turns into ultimate. Tentative choices are typical in California state courts.

In an announcement, the lead legal professionals overseeing associated federal lawsuits in opposition to the businesses — Jayne Conroy, Paul Farrell and Joe Rice – mentioned they strongly disagreed with the ruling and careworn that it didn’t have an effect on associated circumstances nationally.

The solely different opioid trial to reach a verdict resulted in an Oklahoma choose in 2019 ordering J&J to pay $465m to the state. J&J is interesting that call.

Trials are presently underneath means in a New York case in opposition to Teva and AbbVie and in Ohio in opposition to three pharmacy chain operators. A West Virginia federal choose lately completed listening to proof in a trial involving the distributors.

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