Oklahoma judge finds J&J fueled opioid crisis

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Mike Hunter

FILE – In this July 15, 2019, file photo, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter speaks during closing arguments in Oklahoma’s ongoing opioid drug lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, in Norman, Okla. An Oklahoma judge is expected to deliver a judgment following a first-of-its-kind trial in which the state is trying to hold an opioid drugmaker responsible for the devastating consequences of addiction to the powerful painkillers. (Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued this statement following the Oklahoma District Court’s decision holding an opioid manufacturer accountable for its contribution to the epidemic of addiction that has swept our nation.

“Today’s decision in Oklahoma only reaffirms our case against this opioid manufacturer and the crisis it created by lying to Arkansans about the addictiveness of its products,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In 2018, there were over 186 million opioid pills sold in Arkansas, and we still have a long way to go to overcome the devastation. I will hold all manufacturers accountable for the generation of addiction they have created and bring back the resources for treatment for the citizens of our great State.” 

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The Latest on Oklahoma’s opioids case against Johnson & Johnson (all times local):

3:10 p.m.

An Oklahoma judge has found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid drug crisis and ordered the consumer products giant to pay $572 million to help address the problem.

Cleveland County Judge Thad Balkman issued the decision Monday in the nation’s first state trial against the companies accused of contributing to the widespread use of the highly addictive painkillers.

The company is expected to appeal.

Oklahoma argued the company aggressively marketed opioids for years in a way that overstated their effectiveness and underplayed the addiction risk.

Oklahoma previously reached a $270 million settlement with Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma and an $85 million deal with Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Oklahoma’s case could shape negotiations to resolve roughly 1,500 other opioid lawsuits consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.


12 a.m.

An Oklahoma judge is expected to rule in the first state case to go to trial accusing an opioid drugmaker of being responsible for the devastating consequences of addiction to powerful painkillers.

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman is scheduled to deliver his judgment in open court at 3 p.m. Monday. The Oklahoma case is at the forefront of a wave of lawsuits against drug companies over the opioid crisis.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has called consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson a “kingpin” company that helped fuel the most devastating public health crisis in the state’s history. Company attorneys say they acted responsibly and that the evidence doesn’t support the state’s claim.

Two other groups of defendants that manufactured opioids reached settlements before the trial started May 28.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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