Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million for Role in State’s Opioid Epidemic

August 26, 2019 by Dan McCue
OxyContin, in 80 mg pills, in a 2013 file image. (Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in fueling the state’s opioid abuse crisis.

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s ruling concluded the first state opioid case to make it to trial.

In handing it down, he said “the opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma. It must be abated immediately.”

“For this reason, I’m entering an abatement plan that consists of costs totaling $572,102,028 to immediately remediate the nuisance,” he said.

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries are expected to appeal the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The outcome is expected to have broad implications for the more than 1,500 similar lawsuits filed by local, state and tribal governments that have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.

With Balkman’s ruling, a judge, for the first time has said drug companies can be held liable for the national health crisis of opioid addiction.

Prior to the start of the Johnson & Johnson trial in late May, Oklahoma had reached settlements with two other defendants, with Oxycontin maker Purdue Parma agreeing to pay the state $270 million and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. agreeing to pay $85 million.

In the underlying lawsuit, Oklahoma claimed the drug makers overstated how effective their products were for treating chronic pain and understated the risk of addiction.

According to the state Attorney General’s office, 4,653 residents of the state were killed by opioid overdoses between 2007 and 2017.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said on Twitter Monday morning that the state’s case revealed how “corporate greed got in the way of responsible practices at Johnson & Johnson.”

Attorneys for the company countered by arguing their clients did nothing illegal and that they are part of a heavily-regulated industry subject to strict oversight by a number of federal agencies. 

Opioids

Massive Opioid Case May End With Huge Settlement. Where Would The Money Go? Litigation
Massive Opioid Case May End With Huge Settlement. Where Would The Money Go?

The largest civil trial in U.S. history is scheduled to begin in a matter of days, putting those who made, marketed, distributed and dispensed prescription painkillers under the legal spotlight. But those on the front lines of the opioid epidemic are already looking beyond the courtroom... Read More

Opioid Treatment Scam May Be Coming to Your State Opioids
Opioid Treatment Scam May Be Coming to Your State

FREDERICK, Md. — Donna Johnson, a working mother of four who lives in a quiet upscale neighborhood in suburban Maryland, is determined to thwart an insidious addiction treatment scam that’s spreading across the country. It ensnared her son, then 21, in Florida five years ago when... Read More

DEA Allowed Increase of Opioid Production as Overdose Deaths Surged, IG Says Opioids
DEA Allowed Increase of Opioid Production as Overdose Deaths Surged, IG Says
October 1, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Drug Enforcement Agency allowed drug manufacturers to increase production of opioids, despite the fact that overdose deaths were becoming a national health crisis, a government watchdog said in a report released Tuesday. The Justice Department's inspector general review of the agency's regulatory activities... Read More

Who’s to Blame For The Nation’s Opioid Crisis? Massive Trial May Answer That Question Litigation
Who’s to Blame For The Nation’s Opioid Crisis? Massive Trial May Answer That Question

For the families of the roughly 400,000 Americans who have died of opioid drug overdoses since 1999, a legal drama scheduled to unfold in an Ohio courtroom next month may feel like a true shot at justice. After downplaying the risks of dangerous and highly addictive... Read More

Death Made in Mexico: Traffickers Embrace Fentanyl Mexico
Death Made in Mexico: Traffickers Embrace Fentanyl

BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Melissa and Daryl McKinsey first heard about “Mexican Oxy” last year when their 19-year-old son Parker called in tears. “I need to go to rehab,” he said. Several months earlier, a friend had given Parker a baby-blue pill that was stamped on one... Read More

Rep. Murphy Announces Federal Funding to Combat Opioid Crisis in Central Florida Opioids
Rep. Murphy Announces Federal Funding to Combat Opioid Crisis in Central Florida
August 27, 2019
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Representative Stephanie Murphy announced the University of Central Florida will receive $494,412 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat the opioid epidemic in central Florida. The funds will be used by the university to train a new generation of... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top