California counties at trial argue J&J, different drugmakers fueled opioid epidemic By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Teva Pharmaceutical Industries constructing is seen in Jerusalem

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By Nate Raymond and Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) -4 drugmakers helped trigger the lethal U.S. opioid epidemic by deceptively advertising their medicine and downplaying their addictive dangers, a lawyer for a number of California counties argued on Monday firstly of closely-watched trial.

Fidelma Fitzpatrick, the lawyer, advised a California choose that Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:) Ltd, Endo Worldwide (NASDAQ:) PLC and AbbVie (NYSE:)’s Allergan (NYSE:) unit wanted to be held liable for a drug disaster that solely bought worse through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teva’s lawyer, David Collie, countered that the 2 medicine linked to his consumer had solely ever made up a “minuscule” a part of the market, and that docs and sufferers had been absolutely warned of the dangers. Teva had acquired the medicine permitted for breakthrough ache in most cancers sufferers already on opioids with its buy of Cephalon.

The opposite drug firms are anticipated to make their opening statements later within the day.

The plaintiffs – the populous Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Orange counties and the town of Oakland – say the drugmakers ought to should pay greater than $50 billion to cowl the prices of abating the general public nuisance they created, plus penalties.

Fitzpatrick advised Orange County Superior Courtroom Choose Peter Wilson that the case was in regards to the firms’ “lethal legacy” of attempting to spice up their earnings by selling opioid painkillers to deal with power ache, leading to a “mountain” of addictive drugs flooding the state and nation.

“The proof will present every of those firms, all of them, knew what would occur: that their opioids would trigger the crushing burden of habit, overdose and loss of life that California and its folks have skilled,” she mentioned.

Collie mentioned the counties’ case was primarily based on “suggestion and hypothesis.”

“You will not hear from a single physician who was ever misled,” he mentioned.

Opioids have resulted within the overdose deaths of practically 500,000 folks from 1999 to 2019 in the USA, in accordance with U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

Greater than 3,300 comparable lawsuits are pending nationally over the opioid disaster. The one different case to go to trial within the opioid litigation resulted within the state of Oklahoma in 2019 profitable a $465 million judgment in opposition to J&J, which is interesting.

Different instances are slated to go to trial within the coming months, creating new stress for the businesses to achieve settlements.

The nation’s three largest drug distributors – McKesson Corp (NYSE:), AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:) Corp and Cardinal Well being Inc (NYSE:) – and J&J have proposed paying a mixed $26 billion to resolve the instances in opposition to them. The proposed deal has not been finalized.

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