OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a $465 million opioid ruling against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, finding that a lower court wrongly interpreted the state's public nuisance law.

The ruling was the second blow this month to a government case that used a similar approach to try to hold drugmakers responsible for the national epidemic of opioid abuse. Public nuisance claims are at the heart of some 3,000 lawsuits brought by state and local governments against drugmakers, distribution companies and pharmacies.

The court ruled in a 5-1 decision that District Judge Thad Balkman in 2019 was wrong to find that New Jersey-based J&J and its Belgium-based subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals violated the state’s public nuisance statute.

“The court has allowed public nuisance claims to address discrete, localized problems, not policy problems,” according to the opinion written by Justice James R. Winchester.

“J&J had no control of its products through the multiple levels of distribution, including after it sold the opioids to distributors and wholesalers, which were then disbursed to pharmacies, hospitals, and physicians’ offices, and then prescribed by doctors to patients.” The ruling also said the company had no control over how patients then used the products.

The high court said that although it wouldn't want to downplay the suffering that thousands of Oklahomans have gone through because of opioids, the question was whether the company’s marketing and sale of opioids created a public nuisance.

“J&J no longer promotes any prescription opioids and has not done so for several years,” since 2015, Winchester wrote. “Even with J&J’s marketing practices these ... medications amounted to less than 1% of all Oklahoma opioid prescriptions.”

State statistics show that from 2007 to 2017, more than 4,600 people in Oklahoma died from overdoses from opioids of all kinds, including prescription painkillers and illicit versions such as heroin and illegally made fentanyl. Nationally, opioids have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths since 2000.

The court also rejected the state’s appeal to increase the damages award.

The ruling comes a week after a California judge issued a tentative rulingthat said local governments had not proven that Johnson & Johnson used deceptive marketing to inflate prescriptions of their painkillers, leading to a public nuisance.

Although the Oklahoma lawsuit filed by former state Attorney General Mike Hunter was the first of thousands of similar lawsuits to go to trial, the state Supreme Court's ruling doesn't necessarily spell doom for the others.

Elizabeth Burch, a University of Georgia School of Law professor who is following the opioid litigation, said other judges and juries might not decide their cases the same way.

“The question is still whether these are outliers,” she said. “I don’t think we have enough of a consensus on public nuisance law and where it goes and how it works.”

Other opioid trials rooted in public nuisance law are happening in a federal court in Cleveland and a state court in New York, both before juries. And a ruling is expected soon in a trial before a judge in West Virginia.

Spokespeople for the state's current attorney general, John O’Connor, and for J&J did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $5 billion to settle similar lawsuits across the U.S. In a related deal, the nation's three largest drug distribution companies also agreed to a $21 billion settlement over time.

Two other prominent opioid makers, Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt, have reached nationwide settlements through the bankruptcy process.

In dissent, Justice James E. Edmondson said he would uphold the verdict but send the case back to district court to recalculate the damages award.

The state had asked that the award be increased to $9.3 billion.