Published: Tue, August 27, 2019
Medical | By Mark Scott

Johnson & Johnson responsible for opioid crisis in Oklahoma, judge rules

Johnson & Johnson responsible for opioid crisis in Oklahoma, judge rules

An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N to pay $572.1 million to the state for its part in fueling an opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing addictive painkillers, a sum that was substantially less than investors had expected, driving up J&J's shares.

Oklahoma has accused Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, of creating a public nuisance that cost the state billions of dollars and caused thousands of deaths.

While originally named as defendants in the case, Purdue agreed to a $270 million settlement before the trial began in May and Teva agreed to pay $85 million to resolve the state's allegations.

The company also said in a statement that since 2008, its painkillers accounted for less than one percent of the USA drug market, including generic medications.

According to the ruling, which also cites the company's Janssen pharmaceuticals division, the cash will go towards care for a generation of addicts, families and communities affected by the crisis.

J&J shares rose as much as 5.4% in post-market trading in NY after Balkman announced his ruling.

Johnson & Johnson caused Oklahoma's opioid crisis by pushing pain pills on the state and lying about their safety, a judge has declared in a landmark ruling, imposing a penalty on the pharma giant that amounts to pocket change.

Most of those are being rolled into a case to go to trial in October in OH that will likely set the basis for potentially many billions of dollars in settlements across the country.

Oklahoma judge to deliver judgment in state's opioid lawsuit
Historic Decision In The State's Trials Against Johnson & Johnso

The state's attorney general had filed the lawsuit, seeking $17 billion to address the impact of the drug crisis on Oklahoma.

The Johnson & Johnson suit is the first public-nuisance lawsuit against a drug company to go to trial, and Oklahoma's victory means that the case will likely pave the way for future legal action against drug companies.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose.

Attorneys across the nation - especially those which are part of the trial set for federal court in OH this fall - have been "watching and learning from the case Oklahoma assembled, while defendants have been watching for vulnerabilities in that case", Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said earlier this month.

Lawyers for New Jersey-based J&J have said the case rests on a "radical" interpretation of the state's public nuisance law.

The state had asked for almost $17.2 billion over 30 years to tackle the problem.

J&J countered that its marketing claims had scientific support and its painkillers accounted for a tiny fraction of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma. Lawyers for the company said the judgment was a misapplication of public nuisance law.

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