J&J labeled the ‘kingpin’ of the opioid epidemic in Ok. lawsuit

March 14, 2019

As litigation against manufacturers involved in opioid sales continues to mount, lawyers in an Oklahoma lawsuit have taken aim at Johnson & Johnson. 

According to Bloomberg, lawyers working with Oklahoma’s attorney general said in a court document that because a subsidiary of J&J grew and sold opium poppies used in painkillers, the company was the “kingpin behind the public-health emergency, profiting at every stage.”  

J&J has maintained that it was only a supplier, and that it had no role in the manufacturing, development, marketing or sales of opioid products. But the Oklahoma lawsuit alleges that marketing by the company unlawfully targeted children and the elderly. 

About 36 states and 1,600 cities and counties are currently involved in litigation against opioid makers and distributors. Oklahoma will likely be the first state to bring an opioid lawsuit to trial, and the state is seeking $25 billion in damages from companies such as J&J’s Janssen unit, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Purdue Pharma. 

J&J sold the opium poppy-producing unit in question to a private equity firm in 2016. 

Read the full Bloomberg report.