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CA Court Says Drugmakers Aren't Liable For Fueling State's Opioid Epidemic

hydrocodone is an analgesic prescribed as potent pain medication

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A California court says drugmakers aren’t liable for fueling the state’s opioid epidemic.

The judge ruled the governments hadn’t proven the pharmaceutical companies were responsible, marking the first win for any of the companies blamed for the crisis. Attorneys representing four California counties argued the drug companies Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson and Teva used false and misleading marketing to push up the sale of prescription opioids. In a 41-page ruling, however, Judge Peter J. Wilson said it was unclear the drug industry's marketing efforts led to directly to a rise in illegal use of prescription opioid painkillers.

"The Court finds that plaintiffs have failed to prove an actionable public nuisance for which defendants, or any of them, are legally liable," Wilson concluded.

There are more than 3,300 lawsuits filed by states and local governments across the country seeking billions of dollars to deal with an epidemic they say led to nearly 500,000 opioid overdose deaths over two decades. While prescription opioids are widely seen as the spur of the opioid crisis, most drug fatalities now are linked to the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

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