Four drugmakers escape Chicago painkiller marketing lawsuit

By Brendan Pierson

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago in federal court against four drugmakers accused of promoting painkiller addiction through deceptive marketing, though the case will continue against Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma LP.

The companies dismissed from the lawsuit are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions Inc and Actavis Plc. U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso ruled that the city's allegations against the four companies were not specific enough.

Chicago sued the five drugmakers last June, claiming that they overstated the benefit of so-called opioid painkillers for treating long-term pain while downplaying the risk of addiction and potentially fatal overdose. The lawsuit accused them of breaking city and state consumer protection laws.

The drugs at issue include Purdue's Oxycontin, Teva's Actiq, J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals' Duragesic, Endo's Opana and Actavis' Kadian, among others. All are controlled substances under federal law.

Alonso said in Friday's order that the lawsuit failed to identify particular instances of deceptive marketing, except for a narrow set of claims against Purdue for information it posted on its website in 2005 that the city said was misleading. He therefore allowed municipal law claims to continue against Connecticut-based Purdue.

Chicago may file amended versions of the dismissed claims within 30 days, the judge said. If it fails to do so, the dismissal will become final.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Matthew Lewis)