- Title: Oklahoma judge finds J&J liable in opioid epidemic, orders $572 mln damages
- Date: 26th August 2019
- Summary: ENID, OKLAHOMA, UNITED STATES (MAY 23, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF GARDEN DEDICATED TO AUSTIN VARIOUS OF GAIL BOX LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPH OF HER SON IN THE MEMORIAL GARDEN (SOUNDBITE) (English) MOTHER OF MAN WHO OVERDOSED ON OPIOIDS, GAIL BOX, SAYING: â€œBut unfortunately, Austin was living a nightmare, the nightmare of prescription drug abuse prescription opioids to be exact."
- Embargoed: 9th September 2019 22:31
- Keywords: Johnson & Johnson opiods Oklahoma
- Location: NORMAN AND ENID, OKLAHOMA / NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES
- City: NORMAN AND ENID, OKLAHOMA / NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA004ATUWO5J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An Oklahoma judge on Monday (August 26, 2019) found Johnson & Johnson liable for fueling an opioid epidemic in the state by deceptively marketing painkillers, and ordered the drugmaker to pay damages of $572 million.
The damages awarded by Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court in Norman, Oklahoma, following a seven-week, non-jury trial came in what had been a $17 billion lawsuit alleging that J&J's marketing practices helped fuel the opioid epidemic by flooding the market with painkillers.
J&J said it would appeal the verdict.
The case brought by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter was the first to go to trial out of thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Oklahoma sued J&J to help it address the epidemic for the next 30 years through addiction treatment and prevention programs.
"The opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans," Balkman said as he delivered his decision from the bench.
The trial came after Oklahoma resolved claims against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP in March for $270 million and against Teva in May for $85 million, leaving J&J as the lone defendant.
The litigation has been closely watched by plaintiffs in about 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending before a federal judge in Ohio who has been pushing for a settlement ahead of an October trial.
Some plaintiffs' lawyers have compared the opioid cases to litigation by states against the tobacco industry that led to a $246 billion settlement in 1998.
Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2000, some 6,000 Oklahomans have died from opioid overdoses, according to the state's lawyers.
During the trial, lawyers for Oklahoma argued that J&J carried out a years-long marketing campaign that minimized the painkillers' addiction risks and promoted their benefits.
J&J has denied wrongdoing, saying its marketing claims had scientific support and that its painkillers, Duragesic and Nucynta, accounted for a tiny fraction of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma.
(Production: Kia Johnson)
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