What does Johnson & Johnson's ruling in Oklahoma mean for the treatment of addiction on a national level?
In a landmark ruling yesterday (8/26), an Oklahoma court found that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries bore wide responsibility for the opioid addiction epidemic and the company was ordered to pay the state $572 million in damages. In the decision, made by Judge Thad Balkman, he stated, “The opioid crisis is an eminent and menace to Oklahomans. Defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Oklahoma.”
Over 2,000 cases have been brought by states and municipal and Tribal governments against drug companies, but this is the first case to reach trial in which a state sought to hold a major pharmaceutical company responsible for the havoc caused by addiction. “Balkman’s decision could have sweeping implications as other states and communities try to hold companies responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic,” CBNC reported.
Here’s a little background on the case, to help contextualize the ruling and its implications:
- Two other companies — Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals — were also defendants in the original case, but settled in March and May respectively.
- Purdue paid the court $270 million and Teva paid $85 million, but neither company admitted fault with the settlements.
- Johnson & Johnson became the sole defendant in the case after Purdue and Teva settled
- At $572 million, the payout sounds high, but the state was asking for $17.2 billion.
- The money will go towards funding Oklahoma’s addiction treatment plan, but it will only cover the cost of funding for a single year.
- Johnson & Johnson has stated that they plan to appeal what they described on their website as a “flawed ruling.”
By Tracey Anne Duncan
Link to full article here, originally posted on: