J&J, Endo, Teva and Actavis off the hook in Chicago painkiller lawsuit

Four out of 5 drugmakers sued by the city of Chicago escaped the lawsuit, thanks to a Friday court ruling. The case against Purdue Pharma, however, will go on--albeit in a diminished way.

Last year, Chicago accused the makers of high-powered painkillers of deceptive marketing, saying they overstated the benefits of their opioid meds and downplayed the risks of addiction and overdose. Now, Teva ($TEVA), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP), and Actavis ($ACT) are off the hook. The allegations against them weren't specific enough, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso.

Purdue Pharma--which makes perhaps the most notorious of the opioid pills, OxyContin--will have to fight some of the city's accusations, under Alonso's ruling. The remaining claims cover information Purdue posted on its website in 2005, which the city said was misleading, Reuters reports.

Chicago has 30 days to amend its lawsuit with specific allegations of deceptive marketing, the news service notes.

The ruling comes after Alonso allowed Chicago to file unredacted versions of its claims, which detailed marketing techniques the companies used when promoting their painkillers. At the time, Bloomberg dug through the lawsuit to identify the information companies tried to keep out of view, including Cephalon's spending on doctor-speakers for its launch of Fentora--a cool $6 million--and Endo's $4 million speakers' bureau outlay for Opana.

- see the news from Reuters

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