A judge has ruled against the company Johnson & Johnson after it was found to have greatly contributed to the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.
On Monday, a judge ordered #JohnsonAndJohnson to pay $572 million in the state’s opioid crisis trial for the first ruling in the U.S. holding a drug company responsible for helping fuel the epidemic. Calling the opioid crisis an “imminent danger and menace,” District Judge Thad Balkman said, “the state met its burden that the defendants Janssen and Johnson & Johnson’s misleading marketing and promotion of opioids created a nuisance as defined by [the law],” including a finding that those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans.
“Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that’s evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths, and neonatal abstinence syndrome,” he added. J&J plan to appeal the ruling; the company and subsidiary Janssen were found to have repeatedly downplayed the risk of addiction to opioids, training sales representatives to tell doctors the risk was 2.6% or less if a doctor prescribed the drugs. Physicians who prescribed a high amount of opioids were targeted as “key customers.”
According to CNBC, the $572 million judgment will go towards the state’s plan to combat the epidemic. However, the attorney general’s office presented several witnesses who said it would take at least 20 years to carry out. “The state did not present sufficient evidence of the amount of time and costs necessary, beyond year one, to abate the opioid crisis,” the ruling says. Reports show there are currently more than 40 states ready to pursue similar claims against the pharmaceutical industry.