Oklahoma has rested its case against J&J, claiming it has contributed to the creation of a public nuisance that must be abated.
Oklahoma’s Attorney General Mike Hunter has already made deals with Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma ($270 million) and Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceuticals ($85 million), but he continues to press forward with other actions. Recently, Oklahoma’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson –– in which the company is claimed to be at blame for Oklahoma's opioid epidemic –– was the first such state case to go to trial.
Oklahoma claims that drug manufacturers, including J&J (despite the fact that its marketed products account for only a small fraction of opioids used in the state), used aggressive and misleading marketing practices that resulted in the opioid crisis. It identifies J&J, as a maker of raw materials used to manufacture opioids, as the “kingpin” of the epidemic. The fundamental claim is that J&J and other manufacturers created a public nuisance that must be abated.
Hunter has been criticized for paying large fees (over $70 million) to outside attorneys hired by the state. He says their expertise was needed, and they were only guaranteed payment if the state won.
Oklahoma rested its case. Now J&J is awaiting the decision. Everyone involved in the thousand-plus other cases waiting to go to trial are also watching anxiously to see what happens next.
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