Oakland (AFP) – A California judge has ruled against major drug manufacturers as local governments seek billions of dollars to cover their costs from the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Orange County Supreme Court Justice Peter Wilson issued an interim ruling Monday, saying that governments have not proven that drug companies used deceptive marketing to increase unnecessary opioid prescriptions and create public inconvenience.
“There is simply no evidence to prove that the increase in prescriptions was not the result of providing medically appropriate pain medications to patients in need,” Wilson wrote in a judgment of more than 40 pages.
“Any negative consequences arising from appropriate prescriptions cannot constitute an actionable public nuisance,” the ruling stated.
Oakland, Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Clara counties argued that drug companies misled doctors and patients. They say drug makers underestimated the risks of addiction, overdoses, and deaths while overestimating the benefits of long-term health conditions.
Drug makers say opioids are suitable for many chronic pain patients.
Both sides acknowledged the existence of an opioid abuse epidemic.
Hospitalization from drug abuse and overdose deaths “starkly demonstrate the enormity of the ongoing problem,” Wilson said.
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