Oklahoma judge set to reach decision in latest major opioid lawsuit

A ruling is expected in Oklahoma on Monday in a case brought against Johnson & Johnson, the latest in a slew of legal actions against opioid makers.

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A judge in Cleveland County is scheduled to make a judgment in a lawsuit brought by the Oklahoma attorney general against the company for what the state alleges it did to fuel the U.S. opioid crisis.

“Our case has revealed how corporate greed got in the way of responsible practices by Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement about the case in July.

The Johnson & Johnson has denied wrongdoing in the case.

“Throughout trial our team repeatedly laid waste to the state’s case, which it built on misstatements and distortions,” attorney John Sparks, who is representing Johnson & Johnson and their subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., said after closing statements, according to The Associated Press.

“The facts are that Janssen appropriately provided essential pain treatment options to Oklahomans while balancing the inherent risks associated with these medicines,” Sparks said, according to the AP.

Hunter disagrees, saying in his July statement that the state’s evidence “has shown how the company perpetuated the epidemic through the targeting of high prescribing doctors, repeatedly ignoring warnings to clean up its act by the federal government and its own scientific advisers and the myriad of other deceitful practices on its way to selling more highly addictive drugs to a vulnerable population.”

The case against Johnson & Johnson comes after Purdue Pharma settled with Oklahoma in March for $270 million.

Of that settlement, $200 million was earmarked for the Oklahoma State University Center for Wellness and Recovery, which conducts treatment and research, with the remainder of the settlement going towards the state’s legal fees and local initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic.

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