Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter made his final bid on Wednesday forcing Johnson & Johnson to pay $17 billion for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic, stating that the drugmaker’s "egregious" marketing resulted in an oversupply of addictive drugs and overdose deaths. Hunter argued that the evidence presented during the first trial in litigation over the epidemic showed J&J as the root of this crisis.
The state’s lawyers stated that the evidence presented during the seven-week trial that began in May, showed that the defendant’s decades-long marketing campaign convinced doctors and the public that opioid is the first-line treatment for everything from headaches to sprained ankles. They also stated that the defendant and its subsidiaries abandoned all standards of responsible conduct in their blind resolve to make money from their drugs, which created a public nuisance in the form of an opioid crisis.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017. The Oklahoma case is being closely watched by plaintiffs in other opioid lawsuits. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. were also defendants in the case. Purdue settled its claims for $270 million and Teva for $85 million with Oklahoma in May.
U.S. District Judge Dan Polster is presiding over all opioid lawsuits consolidated under MDL No. 2804 (In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation).