The first opioid lawsuit to go to trial started last week, with Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries defending against the state of Oklahoma. Former co-defendants Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals reached settlements of $270 million and $85 million, respectively, before the case reached trial.
Thousands of lawsuits against U.S. drug manufacturers over their role in the opioid crisis have been filed, but none of the others have come to trial yet. Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical branch, Janssen, makes a fentanyl patch called Duragesic and previously manufactured Nucynta, an opioid tablet.
When Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, settled in late March, protesters stood outside the court, urging it to reject the money and pursue justice. Many had lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic and blamed the drug company for its deceptive and aggressive marketing techniques.
“This decision is a kick in the gut to our community,” said Ryan Hampton, a recovering opioid addict said at the time. “We deserve to have our day in court with Purdue. The parents, the families, the survivors deserve at least that. And Oklahoma stripped that from us today.” —C.C