As the 7-week trial comes to an end in Ohio, an Oklahoma judge is expected to give his landmark verdict on Monday. This will be the decision that will tell whether or not Johnson& Johnson will be held responsible for the state’s opioid epidemic. In Oklahoma alone, opioids lead to the death of over 6,000 people. The state is accusing the company of aggressively marketing these drugs to doctors, and underplaying the risks of the drug. The aggressive marketing leads to an oversupply of painkillers in the market. The Oklahoma AG says this lead to a “public nuisance” that ruined the lives of thousands. The state goes on to say that because of this, J&J has cost the state anywhere from $12-$17 billion. The state is looking at making J&J pay over $17 billion. If successful, the money will go to an abatement plan to provide funds for addiction treatment and drug prevention programs.
J&J is still denying any wrongdoing. They claim the opioids they marketed were highly regulated by the FDA. They claim the state has shown no proof that its marketing fueled the opioid crisis. J&J is the only opioid manufacturers facing a lawsuit in Ohio. Purdue, who has been the biggest target on the fight against opioids, settled with the state along with Teva Pharmaceuticals for $270 million and $85 million respectively. This is less than a fraction of what Ohio is asking of J&J. It looks like J&J might settle out of court before the ruling to avoid the risk of paying over $17 billion. However, if they don’t, and the judge rules in favor of Ohio, this could mean bigger payouts for similar cases in other states.
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