Oklahoma judge to rule in $17 billion opioid lawsuit against J&J

(Reuters) – An Oklahoma judge on Monday will determine whether or not Johnson & Johnson needs to be held liable in a $17 billion lawsuit alleging the drugmaker’s advertising and marketing practices fueled the opioid epidemic by inflicting a flood of painkillers in the market.

FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson emblem is displayed on a display screen on the ground of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The case by Oklahoma Attorney General Attorney General Mike Hunter was the primary to go to trial out of 1000’s of circumstances introduced by state and native governments against opioid producers and distributors.

Judge Thad Balkman, of Cleveland County District Court in Norman, Oklahoma, is scheduled to announce his resolution from the bench at four p.m. EDT.

The litigation is being intently watched by plaintiffs in about 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending earlier than a federal judge in Ohio who has been pushing for a settlement forward of an October trial.

Opioids had been concerned in virtually 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, in accordance to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2000, some 6,000 Oklahomans have died from opioid overdoses, in accordance to the state’s legal professionals.

During a seven-week bench trial, legal professionals for the state of Oklahoma argued that J&J carried out a years-long advertising and marketing marketing campaign that minimized the addictive painkillers’ dangers and promoted their advantages.

The state’s legal professionals known as J&J an opioid “kingpin” and argued that its advertising and marketing efforts created a public nuisance as medical doctors over-prescribed the medicine, main to a surge in overdose deaths in Oklahoma.

J&J has denied wrongdoing. The drugmaker in court docket has mentioned its advertising and marketing claims had scientific assist and that its painkillers, Duragesic and Nucynta, made up a tiny fraction of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma.

Lawyers for New Jersey-based J&J argued in court docket papers that the state’s case rests on a “radical” interpretation of the state’s public nuisance regulation.

Hunter, the lawyer basic, is searching for to make J&J pay greater than $17 billion to assist the state deal with the epidemic for the subsequent 30 years by dependancy therapy and prevention applications.

The trial got here after Oklahoma resolved claims against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP in March for $270 million and against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in May for $85 million, leaving solely J&J as a defendant.

Some plaintiffs’ legal professionals have in contrast the opioid circumstances to litigation by states against the tobacco business that led to a $246 billion settlement in 1998.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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