The title wave of litigation focused against opioid manufacturers over their alleged culpability in feeding the national epidemic in recent decades has entered the courtroom once again. Now the target is Johnson & Johnson, as Attorney General Mike Hunt takes aim at the mammoth manufacturer.
Johnson & Johnson is staring down the allegations from the Attorney General alone after OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals just recently came to a settlement with the state for $270 million and $85 million, respectively. Some of the recovered settlement money will be used to pay for the costs of litigation in addition to more treatment and research in the state.
Referring to the opioid epidemic as the “worst man-made public health crisis in the history of our state and country,” Hunt also informed the court in his opening trial statement that between 2007 and 2017, over 4,000 residents of Oklahoma lost their lives from prescription opioid overdoses. The state further asserted that Johnson & Johnson effectively developed an excess supply of the painkilling drugs, enabling its representatives to flood opioids into the state and persuade doctors to fill these dangerous prescriptions for patients.
The result of this bench trial, which is being watched closely, may have a consequential effect on more than 2,000 other pending opioid cases. Many of these cases are now consolidated as part of multidistrict litigation in Ohio, having originated from most states and over 1,600 local and tribal governments.
Recent development in the trial
Only a couple weeks into Oklahoma’s multibillion-dollar trial against Johnson & Johnson for its alleged participation in facilitating the nation’s opioid crisis, the state’s star expert witness gave devastating testimony. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University stated that drug manufacturers pushed doctors in an aggressive manner to needlessly prescribe highly addictive opioid painkillers to address common pain issues.
The outcome between Johnson & Johnson and the state of Oklahoma may be one of the most significant trial outcomes in the history of opioid litigation. Potentially, it may impact the health of millions of Americans, the reputations of many major corporations, and the services and finances of state and local governments around the nation. The litigation is seeking to recover billions spent by state and local governments and healthcare providers over the years dealing with the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Additional lawsuits filed by government entities are focusing on other drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies. The Oklahoma trial and its outcome could greatly influence whether these other lawsuits are able to successfully demonstrate that drug companies, in pushing these dangerous opioids, created a “public nuisance.” This is the legal theory being tested in many of these lawsuits, including in this Oklahoma case.
At Cunningham & Mears, we are committed to fighting for the rights of our clients who have suffered after taking dangerous prescription drugs of any kind. Our Oklahoma City product liability attorneys can investigate your case and pursue the damages you are owed for your injuries and losses. To arrange a free, initial consultation, call our legal team today at 405.212.9234 or fill out our contact form.