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For the first time, drug makers won a court victory in the massive litigation over the opioid epidemic, defeating local governments in California that claimed the companies created a public health crisis through misleading marketing of the prescription painkillers.

In a tentative decision on Monday, Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson rejected arguments that Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), AbbVie (ABBV), and Endo International (ENDP) had deceived the public about the addictive risks of the opioids, promoted them for unintended uses, and encouraged overprescribing by physicians.


Three California counties – Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Orange – as well the city of Oakland claimed the companies created a public nuisance, which generally refers to an action that damages or interferes with a community. They sought up to $50 billion to boost their budgets for policing and treatment centers, which were strained during the opioid crisis over the past two decades.

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