N.Y. postpones opioid bellwether trial as novel coronavirus concerns spread

gavel
Drugmakers including Mallinckrodt could push aggressively for a settlement during the New York trial's delay. (Pixabay)

With thousands of opioid lawsuits waiting in the wings, several major drugmakers have been prepping their defenses for a precursor trial slated to begin next week in New York. Now, with the novel coronavirus continuing its spread, those companies face a delay on that trial—which, for them, might be a good thing. 

A major New York bellwether opioid trial has been indefinitely postponed "out of an abundance of caution" due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, New York Attorney General Letitia James' office said in a release Tuesday.

The defendants in the New York trial include major players Johnson & Johnson, Allergan, Teva, Purdue, Endo and Mallinckrodt as well as a range of manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies. 

The decision from Vito C. Caruso, deputy chief administrative judge for courts outside New York City, comes only a week after the court swatted away a defendant request for interim stay, officially slating the trial to begin next week.

James' office said the court would reconvene April 14 "to determine next steps and set a more concrete schedule for trial."

RELATED: Mallinckrodt floats $1.6B opioid deal, bankruptcy for specialty generics unit