O’Melveny Worldwide

The Recorder: Drug Companies Win Big in Calif. Opioid Trial as Judge Rejects Public Nuisance Claim

November 2, 2021


Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson found that plaintiffs were not able to differentiate between the legitimate uses of opioids and illegal activities that led to addictions and overdoses. “The FDA approves the use of opioids in appropriate circumstances, and the California Legislature approves and promotes the use of opioids in appropriate circumstances,” Judge Wilson wrote. “The court must accordingly draw a distinction between conduct resulting in the anticipated, approved use, and conduct resulting in improper use. The evidence does not permit the court here to draw (and measure) that distinction.” The ruling is the first major victory in a string of cases brought against drugmakers across the country for inciting an opioid crisis. “Today’s well-reasoned tentative decision reflects the facts of the case: Janssen’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,” Janssen said in a statement. O’Melveny’s Mike Yoder, Amy Laurendeau, Steve Brody, Amy Lucas, Charlie Lifland, Jonathan Schneller, and Ross Galin represent Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

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