Opening statements for a trial against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson began in an Oklahoma courtroom on Tuesday in a civil action designed by state officials to hold the drugmaker accountable for its role in the opioid crisis. The suit alleges that Johnson & Johnson, along with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, and Teva Pharmaceutical, used deceptive marketing practices to sell highly addictive opioid painkillers in Oklahoma.
State Attorney General Mike Hunter said that Johnson & Johnson was the “kingpin behind this public health emergency,” growing and importing raw materials that it and other companies used to manufacture opioids that led to the death of thousands of Oklahomans.
“We believe our evidence is persuasive and compelling with regard to their legal responsibility for thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of addictions in the state,” Hunter said.
Oklahoma state officials settled the claim with Purdue in March for $270 million and came to an agreement worth $85 million with Teva on Sunday. That left Johnson & Johnson as the sole defendant in the case that began Tuesday morning in Norman, Oklahoma. The nonjury trial will be heard and decided by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman.
Opening Statements Begin