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.”