Following the landmark ruling in Oklahoma on Monday against Johnson & Johnson that found the company responsible for helping fuel the opioid epidemic, us drug czar James Carroll called out drugmakers for their role as "one of the factors into the start of the crisis".
"The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma", Balkman said before announcing the judgment. It had been considered a bellwether for other litigation nationwide over the opioid epidemic. "$572 million is a much lower number than had been feared". Still, the decision heartened lawyers representing plaintiffs in numerous more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending across the country who are pursuing a legal strategy similar to Oklahoma's.
Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). And he added that since 2000, opioid drug overdoses have claimed the lives of about 6,000 Oklahomans. Some drug companies have chosen to settle suits.
Oklahoma Judge Thad Balkman ruled Monday that J&J (JNJ:UN) created a temporary public nuisance by duping doctors into overprescribing its opioid-based medications, and ordered the company to pay US$572 million to the state.
Johnson & Johnson's general counsel Michael Ullmann released a statement following the ruling in which he recognized that the opioid epidemic had brought the state great pain; Ullmann contended, however, that the company was not at fault.
Oklahoma required J&J to help it address the plague for the subsequent three decades by funding addiction therapy and prevention programs.
The amount the company was actually fined will cover the state's plan to fight the epidemic for one year.
"We have sympathy for those who suffer from opioid use disorder".
"The concern about pharmaceutical companies and the roles that they have played is a concern that goes beyond the boundary of a single jurisdiction", Boyd said.
J&J said it would appeal, and seek to put payment of the award on hold during the appeal process.
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The lawsuit from Oklahoma attorney general Mike Hunter also named J&J's pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen.
J&J said it has not set aside a litigation reserve to pay potential damages, and that its policy is to do so once a loss is "probable and can be reasonably estimated".
Judge Balkman heard the case without a jury during nearly eight weeks of trial testimony that ended in mid-July. The company argued that its drugs only represented about 1 percent of the opioid market.
Virginia's case was filed past year in Tazewell County, in western Virginia.
Oklahoma was asking for $17 billion - a figure meant to provide addiction and other services for the next 30 years.
The judge overseeing the federal litigation in OH has been pushing for a global settlement.
J&J has denied wrongdoing.
The ruling states that the company deceptively marketed opioids by downplaying the risks of addiction, which led to doctors prescribing the drugs heavily. It claimed its painkillers accounted for less than one percent of total opioid prescriptions in Oklahoma and the U.S., including generic medications. "That is not what this case is about", Strong said.
Purdue, which is also among the defendants in the OH litigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.