J&J Awaits Judge’s Decision in Lawsuit Filed by Oklahoma Over the Opioid Crisis

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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