Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $US 572 million to the State of Oklahoma, after a judge found the company deceptively marketed opioids. The judgement even found that Johnson & Johnson bore some responsibility for Oklahoma’s opioid crisis.
The case was the first opioid lawsuit to reach a verdict in the United States, where hundreds of suits are being brought across the nation.
Judge Thad Balkman found that Johnson & Johnson engaged in “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing” that caused “exponentially increasing rates of addiction and overdose death” in the State of Oklahoma.
Two other pharmaceutical companies, Purdue Pharma and Teva, were initially defendants in the same suit, but they each settled separately to avoid going to trial. Johnson & Johnson decided to fight.
After the verdict, the company stated its intention to appeal and described the case as flawed.
In statement, Johnson & Johnson announced that it and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies will appeal the $572 million civil judgment entered in Cleveland County District Court in the State of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.
“The Company is confident it has strong grounds to appeal this decision,” Michael Ullmann, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Johnson & Johnson said.
“The judgment disregards the Company’s compliance with Federal and State laws, the unique role its medicines play in the lives of the people who need them, its responsible marketing practices…
“Janssen did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and neither the facts nor the law support this outcome.
“We recognise the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We are working with partners to find ways to help those in need.”