California choose guidelines for drugmakers in main opioid lawsuit By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, the United States, on May 29, 2019. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

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By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A California judge said Monday he would rule against several large counties that accused four drug companies of fueling an opioid epidemic and said they failed to resolve their $ 50 billion case in court to prove.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson issued a preliminary ruling in which Johnson & Johnson (NYSE :), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE 🙂 Ltd, Endo International (NASDAQ 🙂 PLC, and AbbVie Inc (NYSE 🙂 ‘s Allergan (NYSE 🙂 entity is not responsible for creating any public nuisance.

Wilson said he was aware of the toll the deadly opioid epidemic had inflicted on society and that hospital admissions as a result of substance abuse and deaths from opioid overdoses “clearly demonstrate the enormity of the ongoing problem.”

But he said even if drug manufacturers’ marketing made false or misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids, populous Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as the city of Oakland, could not hold them liable.

Because “all the negative consequences that result from medically sensible prescriptions cannot constitute an actionable public nuisance”, the federal and state governments had already weighed the social benefits of the drugs.

J&J said in a statement the decision shows that their “actions in relation to the marketing and promotion of their major prescription pain relievers were appropriate and responsible and did not cause public harassment.”

John Hueston, Endo’s attorney, said the ruling shows that “the drug manufacturer’s lawful conduct has not caused the widespread public harassment that the plaintiffs’ complaint is about”. The other drug manufacturers did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

The counties did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

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