Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Oklahoma Opioid Trial

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Currents News Staff

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will appeal a judge’s landmark decision that is holding the company financially responsible for its role in the opioid crisis in the state of Oklahoma.

This marks the first time ever that a drug maker is being held responsible for one of the worst man-made epidemics in history. 

Johnson and Johnson has now been ordered to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million in the result of a case which spanned two years and a seven-week long trial. 

In his decision, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman cited what he called the drug giant’s false and misleading marketing of opioids.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter called Johnson & Johnson the “kingpin” behind the nation’s opioid crisis. “We have proven that Johnson & Johnson built its billion dollar brand out of greed and on the backs of pain and suffering of innocent people,” he said.

Hunter’s team of 13 attorneys described the trial as “taking on the lion.” The ruling also marks the first case in the nation to reach trial out of dozens others by states suing opioid drug makers. He hopes it’ll help other states be successful.

But an attorney for Johnson & Johnson described the judge’s decision as “flawed.” 

“Johnson & Johnson did not cause opioid abuse crisis in Oklahoma, or anywhere in this country,” said company attorney Sabrina Strong. 

Johnson & Johnson attorneys say the company has strong grounds for appeal and intend to pursue those vigorously.