Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and other former opioid makers scored the pharmaceutical industry’s first victory in a four-year lawsuit over the drugs, defeating a lawsuit from local governments in California that claimed they had created a public-health trial through deceptive created a crisis. Marketing.
Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson in Santa Ana on Monday dismissed claims that units of J&J, Teva, Endo International plc and Abby Inc.’s Allergan plc accused doctors and patients of addiction to opioid painkillers. Betrayed and created a so-called “public nuisance”. bound by drugs. Officials in Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Orange counties and the city of Oakland are seeking $50 billion to increase policing and treatment budgets that have been undermined by the pandemic.
It is the first time a judge or jury has dismissed claims from states or local governments that ex-opioid manufacturers should be held liable for the fallout from the US opioid epidemic, which has claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 Americans over the past two decades. has claimed.
“The Court found that the plaintiffs failed to prove an actionable public nuisance for which the defendants are legally liable,” Wilson concluded in a provisional ruling.
Lawyers for local governments said they would ask the California Court of Appeals to review the decision.
“The people of California will have the opportunity to pursue justice on appeal and ensure that no opioid manufacturer may engage in reckless corporate practices that compromise their own benefit from public health in the state,” he said in a statement. does.”
J&J said it is pleased that Wilson found its Janssen unit’s opioid marketing and promotion “fair and responsible and did not cause any public nuisance,” according to a statement. Endo’s attorney John Houston said the judge rightly found that the company “did not make false or misleading statements, and that Endo’s lawful conduct did not cause widespread public nuisance in the plaintiff’s complaint.”
Teva also praised the decision, saying the company recognizes that communities across the US are still suffering from the fallout of the opioid epidemic and need help.
“A clear victory for the many patients living with opioid addiction in the US will come only when comprehensive settlements are finalized and resources are made available to all who need them,” the Israel-based drugmaker said in a statement.
The ruling marks a turnaround for Jammu and Kashmir, which faced an Oklahoma judge’s 2019 ruling it created a public nuisance in the state through its opioid marketing. The judge ordered the New Jersey-based drugmaker to pay $465 million in reimbursement for tax dollars spent tackling social ills linked to the pandemic. The decision is still on appeal.
While some pharmaceutical industry players, such as J&J, went on to establish a global settlement of their opioid liabilities, the case brought by the California governments was forwarded to a non-jury trial.
J&J and the three largest opioid distributors in the US have offered deals worth $26 billion to eliminate more than 4,000 lawsuits filed by states and municipalities. That agreement is yet to be finalized. Teva offered what it says are $23 billion worth of opioid-treatment drugs, a disputed valuation by several states, cities and counties.
Lawyers for local governments tried to convince Wilson that opioid manufacturers had unfairly flooded the state with 20 billion opioid doses over the past two decades and deceived doctors and consumers about the addictive nature of the pills. This increased dependence further and created public nuisance.
The judge said, however, that governments’ evidence of a dramatic increase in opioid prescriptions was not sufficient to meet California’s trial that the problem tagged as a nuisance is “substantial and unreasonable.” Wilson said municipalities did not provide evidence of “medically inappropriate” opioid prescriptions linked to the company’s allegedly deceptive marketing. He said the increase may be linked to proper prescription for patients in pain.
“The court cannot conclude that an increase in medically appropriate prescriptions can be grounds for public nuisance liability, even if undesirable consequences are produced,” the judge wrote in the 42-page ruling.