Oklahoma Begins First Major Opioid Trial Against Johnson & Johnson


Johnson & Johnson is on trial with the state of Oklahoma in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s painkiller marketing is responsible for the opioid crisis.

The trial started Tuesday in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, with Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman presiding, according to a news release from Hunter’s office.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter alleges that Johnson & Johnson’s marketing campaigns downplayed the negative effects of opioids and highlighted the positive effects, according to NPR.

Hunter also alleges that Purdue Pharma LP and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd of Jerusalem are responsible for the same charges – but both companies have settled with the state of Oklahoma.

Teva announced Sunday that it settled with Oklahoma for  $85 million, an amount that will be used for litigation costs and “to abate the opioid crisis in Oklahoma,” according to the news release.

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“Today’s announcement is a testament to the state’s legal team’s countless hours and resources preparing for this trial and their dedication and resolve to hold the defendants in this case accountable for the ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic that continues to claim thousands of lives each year,” Attorney General Hunter said Sunday, according to the release.

“Nearly all Oklahomans have been negatively impacted by this deadly crisis and we look forward to Tuesday, where we will prove our case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries.”

Teva said in a statement that though the company did reach a settlement, this does not establish any wrongdoing on its part.

“The settlement does not establish any wrongdoing on the part of the company; Teva has not contributed to the abuse of opioids in Oklahoma in any way,” the company said in a statement.

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“The company has resolved this matter in a way that benefits the people who have suffered from abuse of opioids and to help stop the effects of the opioid crisis.

“Teva continues to keep the long-term stability of the company at the forefront.”

Purdue Pharma also settled for $270 million in March, the news release said.

“We acted responsibly in providing FDA-approved pain medications, and we are ready for trial,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement to Reuters on Sunday, noting that it cannot be proved that the company’s marketing caused doctors to incorrectly prescribe opioids.

Johnson & Johnson had not responded to a request for comment.

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