A record number of Americans died of drug overdoses during 2020 as pandemic lockdowns made getting treatment difficult and dealers laced more drugs with a powerful synthetic opioid, according to data released on July 14 and health officials.

Four drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., will go to trial on April 19 over claims they helped fuel an opioid crisis that has resulted in nearly 500,000 overdose deaths in the United States.

Purdue Pharma LP will ask a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge to pause litigation against the company and ownership over the objections of U.S. states that allege the OxyContin maker is trying to protect the controlling Sackler family.

U.S. overdose deaths dropped during 2018 for the first time in nearly two decades, the CDC said, in a sign that a nationwide epidemic of drug-related deaths is abating.

Opioid use has reached crisis proportions not only in the United States but also in Canada and some European countries, as prescription opioid painkillers have become much more common, the OECD club of wealthy nations said.

Researchers are reporting a link between doctor-targeted marketing of opioid products and the increase in U.S. deaths from overdoses.