Johnson & Johnson Ordered To Pay Oklahoma $572 Million In Opioid Trial

Summary and Analysis

This story summarizes the Oklahoma decision which calls for Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its part in causing the opioid crisis in that state. This is the first ruling to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid crisis. 

The case relied on public nuisance law which requires those found guilty to pay for abatement of the public nuisance. 

The case has potentially important implications for the 2,000 other suits pending against pharmaceutical companies and distributors. 

Excerpted from NPR

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An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state’s opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state.

Oklahoma sought $17.5 billion, blaming Johnson & Johnson for fueling the crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the state.

It’s the first ruling to hold a pharmaceutical company responsible for one of the worst drug epidemics in American history.

Judge Thad Balkman delivered his decision from the bench, after presiding over a seven-week civil trial in the college town of Norman, Okla.

“The defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma,” Judge Balkman said in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson immediately released a statement saying that the company “plans to appeal the opioid judgment in Oklahoma.”