Judge Peter J. Wilson, presiding over a state trial court in California ruled on November 1 that four drug companies can’t be held liable for that state’s opioid epidemic. This is a defeat for the attorneys representing four counties in the state. They had argued that Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva were each liable because they all used false marketing to press the sale of prescription opioids.
In a 41 page decision, Judge Wilson said that it is unclear whether there is a cause-effect relationship between the marketing efforts, on the one hand, and the addiction epidemic that has imposed costs on the public sector in all four counties, on the other.
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson praised the ruling, but rather missed its narrow, causation-targeted, point. The spokesperson said that J&J’s actions “relating to the marketing and promotion of its important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible, and did not cause any public nuisance.”
In Pill Form:
Not only did the Judge not find the marketing appropriate, he did not seek to downplay the severity of the problem, either. “This Court is aware of the toll being taken on society,” the opinion says. “Opioid-related hospitalization rates and opioid-related deaths starkly demonstrate the enormity of the on-going problem.”