An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson created a public nuisance in their deceptive marketing of opioid pain medications, helping to cause the state’s opioid crisis, ordering the manufacturer to pay $572 million to the state.
Originally seeking $17.5 billion, the ruling acknowledged that the cost of repairing the damage caused by the opioid epidemic will require more resources. It is estimated that the $572 million payment may only fund Oklahoma’s recovery plan for one year.
However, this ruling has created much excitement, as there are an unprecedented number of other lawsuits being waged against opioid manufacturers. Healthesystems previously reported on the high volume of lawsuits launched against opioid manufacturers from various state and city governments, with over 41 state Attorney Generals banding together to investigate drug makers and distributors, while federal courts oversee more than 200 lawsuits from cities and counties.
These lawsuits seek monetary damage, claiming drug makers misled doctors and patients regarding the safety of opioid products, resulting in the harm of the opioid epidemic.
This Oklahoma ruling is the first trial where a drug maker has been held responsible for the opioid epidemic. And with nearly 2,000 other cases being managed in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation, a federal proceeding, it is possible other cases could result in more significant monetary rulings.
Earlier this year, other drug makers being sued by Oklahoma reached settlements instead of going to trial. Purdue Pharma paid Oklahoma state $270 million, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries paid $85 million. Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the judgment.