Pharma industry must face conspiracy claims during opioid trial, judge rules

Several pharma companies, distributors and pharmacies must face a federal court jury next month in response to claims that they conspired to commit "unlawful acts"in the marketing, delivering and selling of opioids, according to Bloomberg.

The ruling clears the way for Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health and Walgreens to face a trial slated to start Oct. 21 in Cleveland. The trial seeks to hold various players in the pharmaceutical industry liable for billions of dollars cities and states have spent dealing with the societal fallout from the opioid crisis, which kills more than 100 Americans a day, the report states.

In an effort to sidestep the October trial, the companies had asked the judge to throw out the civil-conspiracy claims, but the judge refused.

"The court cannot conclude that no reasonable jury could find… [opioid makers…] entered into a conspiratorial agreement or malicious combination," U.S. District Judge Dan Polter wrote in a 10-page decision, according to Bloomberg.

Mr. Polter's Sept. 4 ruling means that juries must decide whether or not to hold the companies liable for conspiring to push opioid prescriptions during the Oct. 21 hearing.

Some analysts have predicted that a final global settlement could cost pharma companies more than $150 billion. Purdue Pharma already has offered to pay $10 billion to $12 billion to settle its opioid litigation.

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