California counties argued that drugmakers’ marketing downplayed opioids’ addictive risks but judge said ‘no evidence’.

A California judge has said he would rule against several large counties that accused four drug manufacturers of increasing the US opioid epidemic, saying they failed during a trial to prove their $50bn case.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson on Monday issued a tentative ruling finding Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Endo International PLC and AbbVie Inc’s Allergan unit not liable.

It marked the first trial win for any pharmaceutical company in the more than 3,300 lawsuits filed by states and local governments over a drug abuse crisis that the US government says led to nearly 500,000 opioid overdose deaths over 20 years.

The ruling came

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