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Oklahoma Wins Case Against Johnson & Johnson as Court Finds Pharma Giant Fueled State’s Opioid Crisis

HeadlineAug 27, 2019

A judge in Oklahoma has found that Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the state’s opioid crisis, and ordered the pharma giant to pay over half a billion dollars — $572 million. It’s the first major ruling against a drug company as part of the opioid epidemic, which has led to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths around the country. Although hailed as a victory, the damages are much lower than the $17 billion Oklahoma had sought in the case. Some 2,000 other lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors are pending around the country. A massive federal lawsuit brought by almost 2,000 cities, counties and Native American tribes is scheduled to begin in October. This is Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter speaking after the ruling.

Attorney General Mike Hunter: “Johnson & Johnson, motivated by greed and avarice, is responsible for the opioid epidemic in our state. Johnson & Johnson will finally be held accountable for thousands of deaths and addiction caused by their activities. … At the end of the day, you can’t sit in a corporate suite somewhere for the last 20 years and oversupply the country. Ten times more of this drug was coming in, and then you had, concomitantly, 15 times more people dying from opioid overdoses. So, there’s no question in my mind that these companies knew what was going on at the highest level.”

Johnson & Johnson has vowed to appeal the ruling. We’ll have more on this story after headlines with Mother Jones reporter Julia Lurie.

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