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Judge: Drugmaker responsible in opioid epidemic

by Kent Covington
Posted 8/27/19, 11:52 am

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries must pay $572 million to help fight the nation’s opioid crisis. Oklahoma Judge Thad Balkman on Monday found the consumer products giant liable in the drug epidemic that claimed nearly 5,000 lives in the state between 2007 and 2017. Balkman said the litigation isn’t closed, and he will likely rule on other issues in the case in the future.

What does this mean for drug companies? The ruling could help shape negotiations over roughly 1,500 similar lawsuits consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio. Oklahoma reached earlier settlements totaling more than $300 million with two other pharmaceutical companies. The state argued the companies launched misleading marketing campaigns that overstated the effectiveness of drugs such as OxyContin while downplaying the risk of addiction.

Dig deeper: Read Rachel Lynn Aldrich’s report in Compassion on last year’s dip in drug overdose deaths and Julie Borg’s analysis for WORLD Magazine of why it may have occurred.

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