Local Governments Lose Case Against Opioid Drugmakers

An Orange County judge has ruled against several local governments who sued top drug manufacturers for their role in the country’s opioid crisis.

The counties of Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Orange County, along with the City of Oakland, are seeking $50 billion to abate the public nuisance of the opioid epidemic in their communities. They said that nuisance was fueled by deceptive advertising by companies Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo International, and AbbVie Inc's Allergan.

The tentative ruling from Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson said the plaintiffs had not proven the pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing to boost unnecessary prescriptions of opioids.

“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.

“Any adverse downstream consequences flowing from medically appropriate prescriptions cannot constitute an actionable public nuisance,” the ruling said.

America’s opioid epidemic has led to the deaths of nearly 500,000 Americans over the past 20 years and cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars. Over 3,300 lawsuits have been filed by states and local governments over the drug abuse crisis. This is the first time the drug makers have been successful with the issue in court. 

The plaintiffs plan to appeal.


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