Johnson & Johnson Faces Trial amid Opioid Crisis in Oklahoma

opioid crisis

One of the most famous American multinational companies Johnson & Johnson faced its first trial in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, with County District Judge Thad Balkman on Tuesday. The trial was set on the issue that the nation’s largest drug maker was responsible for the present opioid crisis in the state.

Opioid, a drug-substance primarily used for pain relief, has caused many deaths in the states. The trial thereby aims to limit the accidental overdose of the drug, avoiding addiction.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General Mike Hunter alleged that Johnson & Johnson overly displayed only the positive effects of the drug, neglecting its harmful impacts on humans, leading to deadly crisis. In his opening arguments during the trial, he said that over 4,000 Oklahomans died between 2007 and 2017 due to opioid overdose.  

Hunter’s evidences included alleging of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, who settled with the state for $270 million, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, who announced $85 million settlement after Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the companies amid the opioid crisis.

Another State Attorney accused Johnson & Johnson for oversupplying opioid in the state, proving their points in the case against the company and its subsidiaries. He added that the drug representatives encouraged the doctors to prescribe opioid to their patients.

The current situation in Oklahoma has led to a public health crisis, killing many state residents while endangering the lives of others. Due to the awareness spread against opioids, many local and tribal governments have been suing drug makers and distributors. Announcing the settlement, Teva claimed that the company has not contributed to the abuse of opioid in Oklahoma.

Despite various accusations in the trial, the company lawyers argued that the medication was necessary for treating chronic pain. A law professor at University of Kentucky stood in favor, saying that opioid is not a defective product; instead the overdoses have led to the present hazards.

The companies involved in this and other lawsuits against opioid manufacturers have a broad concern about what their liability might be, says University of Kentucky law professor Richard Ausness.

Though, the Federal Drug Administration has regulated and approved the use of opioid, yet the company officials have raised concerns against its liability. Some in the country believe that the Federal Drug Administration has been overlooking the marketing of the drug, leading to an uneven distribution of opioid products across the state. Others believe that the production and usage of opioids put human lives at serious risks.

The recent studies observed that Oklahoma is amongst the highest state in the country with poor health conditions. Thereby the state has been continuously trying to treat the drug-addicts with the money earned from the drug companies.

In the wake of the opioid crisis across the state, Johnson & Johnson has now become the only company left that has been producing the drug. Will it be able to settle with Oklahoma like Purdue Pharma and Teva did is a question that remains to be answered.


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