Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman on Monday issued a verdict ordering pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the state's opioid crisis which has ravaged the state of Oklahoma.
A federal trial is slated for this fall in which nearly 2,000 cases involving cities, counties, communities and tribal lands have been rolled into one, accusing opioid makers of causing the epidemic. This case is the first state case to reach trial. The opioid crisis has so far been the most devastating public health crisis of the 21st century. In 2017 alone, more Americans died of drug overdoses than in the entire Vietnam War. The defendants "engaged in false and misleading marketing of both their drugs and opioids generally, and the law makes clear that such conduct is more than enough to serve as the act or omission necessary to establish the first element of Oklahoma's public nuisance law," the judge explained.
Johnson & Johnson announced that it plans to appeal the "flawed" judgment. Oklahoma previously reached settlements with two other opioid drugmakers: a $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and an $85 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the world's leading providers of generic drugs.