Oklahoma Supreme Court overturns $ 465 million opioid judgment against drug company

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In a blow, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a well-known pharmaceutical company should not have been held responsible for the state’s opioid crisis.

After several deaths from opioid addiction, the state of Oklahoma took legal action against Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company fueled the opioid crisis in the state.

In 2019, Justice Thad Balkman ruled in favor of the state, saying Johnson & Johnson’s actions were jeopardizing the health of thousands of Oklahomais.

According to the decision, Balkman found that the “defendants have engaged in false and deceptive marketing of both their drugs and their opioids in general; and (b) such conduct constitutes a public nuisance under current Oklahoma law. His order also states that Johnson & Johnson’s practices were not protected by the First Amendment.

Balkman ordered the company to pay the state $ 465 million.

On an appeal of the decision, Johnson & Johnson said it had already stopped marketing branded Schedule II products, adding that it only sold 3% of all prescription opioids nationwide. ‘State.

“The district court held J&J responsible under the Oklahoma Public Nuisance Act for carrying out” false, deceptive and dangerous marketing campaigns “about prescription opioids,” the ruling said.

In the appeal, attorneys for Johnson & Johnson say Oklahoma’s public nuisance law should not extend to the manufacture, marketing and sale of products.

Now the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that Johnson & Johnson shouldn’t have been held responsible for the drug crisis.

“In making this decision, we are not minimizing the severity of the harm that thousands of Oklahoma citizens have suffered from opioids. No matter how serious the opioid addiction problem is in Oklahoma, the Nuisance Law does not provide a cure for this harm, ”the court ruling said.

He goes on to say that the nuisance law applies to “illegal conduct that interferes with, injures or endangers the comfort, rest, health or safety of others. But this conduct was a criminal or property-based conflict. Applying nuisance laws to legal products as requested by the state would create unlimited and unprincipled liability for the manufacturers of the products; this is why this Court has never applied the Public Nuisances Act to the manufacture, marketing and sale of lawful products.

The court noted that a manufacturer does not have control over its product once it is sold.

Johnson & Johnson released the following statement after the ruling:

“We recognize that the opioid crisis is an extremely complex public health issue, and we have deep sympathy for all concerned. The Company’s actions in the marketing and promotion of these important prescription pain relievers were appropriate and responsible. Today, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court appropriately and categorically rejected the erroneous and unprecedented expansion of the Public Nuisance Act as a means to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of products. , including the company’s prescription opioid drugs.

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