(Bloomberg) -- A judge approved a bid by U.S. cities and counties suing opioid makers such as Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to negotiate a settlement as a group, in an effort to jump-start talks to resolve the sweeping litigation over the addictive painkillers.U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Ohio, overseeing more than 2,000 lawsuits by U.S. municipalities, concluded that the negotiation class was necessary to help come up with a resolution acceptable to opioid makers and distributors.In a 40-page ruling, Polster said he was willing to back the “novel” idea of the class in hopes of speeding a settlement that expedites “relief to communities so they can better address this devastating national health crisis.”

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