The Core Legal Strategy Against Opioid Companies May Be Faltering

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s decision against Johnson & Johnson over the company’s role in the opioid epidemic.Credit...4k-Clips/Alamy

In 2014, as overdoses and deaths from prescription opioids were catapulting, gutting the budgets of local governments that were struggling to contain the damage, lawyers began working up a novel legal strategy to hold the pharmaceutical industry responsible.

That approach, which in the ensuing years became the foundation for more than 3,000 lawsuits, was soundly rejected this month by a California trial judge and, on Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court, two states where the first opioid trials have concluded.