California Brings Four Big Pharma Firms to Trial Over Opioid Epidemic

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Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Endo International PLC, and AbbVie’s Allergan unit are set to face trial on Monday in a lawsuit by several large counties in California that are seeking more than $50 billion over claims the companies helped fuel an opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing addictive painkillers, reports Reuters. The populous Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Orange counties and the city of Oakland accuse the companies of deceptively marketing painkillers in ways that downplayed their addictive risks. The drugmakers argue they acted appropriately and that they did not cause the epidemic. If Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson finds the companies liable following a non-jury trial, the counties say the companies should have to pay $50 billion to cover the costs of abating the public nuisance they created plus penalties. Opioids have resulted in the overdose deaths of nearly 500,000 people from 1999 to 2019 in the United States, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 3,400 similar lawsuits are pending nationally over the opioid epidemic and set to go to trial in the upcoming months, creating new pressure for the companies to reach settlements.

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