Defendants, including Walgreens, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals had tried to get the case thrown out.
(CN) — A federal judge on Thursday cleared the way for San Francisco’s opioid lawsuit against Walgreens and a number of pharmaceutical companies to head to trial, which is set to begin on April 25.
Thousands of states, cities and counties have sued pharmaceutical companies over their role in the opioid epidemic, which is believed to have been caused by the marketing and overprescription of prescription drugs like Oxycontin. Many patients who were prescribed an opiate later switched over to using illegal narcotics like heroin. According to the CDC, nearly half a million people died from opiate overdoses between 1999 and 2019.
The biggest culprit was Purdue Pharma, which manufactured and marketed Oxycontin, and which entered bankruptcy in 2020. That proceeding hit the pause button on all lawsuits against Purdue, and eventually lead to a massive settlement, in which cities and states will effectively take over ownership of Purdue. The former owners of the company, the Sackler family, contributed $6 billion to the settlement, a good deal of which went to the governmental entities, in exchange for immunity from future lawsuits.
The drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three pharmaceutical distributors agreed to a $26 billion settlement with states and municipalities in February.