Oklahoma judge rules against J&J in landmark trial

Aug. 27, 2019

A judge in Oklahoma has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million in damages for its role in the opioid epidemic.

The state’s lawyers accused J&J of being the “kingpin” of the opioid epidemic and said the company had a long history of oversupplying the market with narcotics. According to the state’s attorney general, J&J wanted to help supply drugs that more aggressively treated pain so it bought a poppy farm in Australia, which was run by its subsidiaries, and ultimately supplied 60 percent of the market’s APIs for prescription opioids in the U.S.

Oklahoma’s attorney general also alleged that misleading marketing practices from J&J helped spread the misconception that opioids were safe, and contributed to the ride in use.

The case was the first to go to trial out of thousands being levied by plaintiffs across the country. 

Oklahoma has already settled claims as part of the same case with Purdue Pharma for $270 million and Teva for $85 million.

J&J called the verdict “flawed” and plans to appeal. The company’s attorneys also accused the state of trying to “sue its way” out of a health crisis.

Oklahoma’s attorneys said they would defend the case all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. 

Read the Reuters report.