California counties seek billions from drugmakers in opioid trial

Four drugmakers are facing lawsuit in California for claiming to downplay the risks of opioid addiction and engaging in the deceptive marketing that fueled the opioid crisis.

AbbVie’s Johnson & Johnson, Teva, Endo and Allergan are accused of falsely marketing pain relievers and knowingly underestimating the risk of addiction in order to increase sales, in a lawsuit brought by three counties of California and the city of Oakland, which are claiming billions of dollars in damages.

“The unfortunate legacy of this marketing, this promotion, these lies, these sales is that there is an opioid epidemic that continues to rage in California,” Fidelma Fitzpatrick said in her speech. opening Monday on behalf of the plaintiffs – Santa Clara, Orange and Los Angeles and Oakland counties.

She said companies are engaged in “aggressive marketing and promotion of opioids, knowing the tragic health consequences that will follow.”

In taking the case to Judge Peter Wilson, Fitzpatrick said drugmakers were engaging in “deceptive at best and bogus at worst” marketing practices, noting that all four companies claim “no dose is too high. And that addiction was rare.

“The damage caused by the legacy of this marketing and promotion is extraordinarily real today,” she said, claiming that companies have misled doctors into believing that prescribing opioids was the appropriate course of action. “It’s not a bad doctors problem, it’s a pill problem.”

the opioid epidemic swept across the United States and claimed the lives of thousands. Nearly 500,000 people died of opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdoses account for the majority of drug-related deaths in the United States.

The California lawsuit is the latest case against drugmakers for their role in the deadly opioid epidemic, which has sparked thousands of lawsuits across the country. In 2019, J&J received the order of pay $ 572 million in damages by an Oklahoma judge who found the company had caused a “public nuisance” in the state. The plaintiffs in this lawsuit seek to prove the same.

In Teva’s opening speech, attorney Collie James argued that his client had not acted inappropriately. “The evidence will not support this grand conspiracy theory. . . My client’s products are and remain legal, necessary and effective pain management. “

Teva also settled an opioid case with Oklahoma earlier in 2019, pay $ 85 million to the state on assertions, it fueled the crisis.

The trial is being held remotely via Zoom, and lawyers for the four companies are expected to present their case later on Monday.

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