The state of Oklahoma has been going after the drug companies at the center of the opioid epidemic, and on Monday, state attorneys won their first case: a civil suit against Johnson & Johnson. Bringing an end to a seven-week civil trial, Judge Thad Balkman ruled in favor of Oklahoma, finding that Johnson & Johnson’s marketing practices fueled a statewide opioid crisis that claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people. As part of Judge Balkman’s decision, Johnson & Johnson must pay $572 million to the state of Oklahoma. Immediately after the ruling, the drug company issued a statement vowing to appeal the decision.
How Johnson & Johnson Ignited a Lethal Public Health Crisis in Oklahoma
“The opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans,” Judge Thad Balkman said in his Monday ruling against Johnson & Johnson. Throughout the case, state attorneys brought forward evidence outlining exactly how dangerous and how menacing opioids are. They showed how Oklahomans are suffering from worsening rates of addiction, increasing overdose deaths and rising rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome. And they linked that data to Johnson & Johnson’s marketing of the opioid painkillers Duragesic and Nucynta.
“The state met its burden [of