13 Investigates


Judge orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $572M for role in OK opioid epidemic

Lawyers; ruling by Oklahoma judge a precedent
Posted at 6:51 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 18:45:01-04

According to ABC News, Purdue Pharma is possibly offering at least $10 billion to settle over 2000 cases with states and local governments. The lawsuits claim Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, fueled the opioid addiction epidemic.

Purdue Pharma provided the following statement to KTNV:

“While Purdue Pharma is prepared to defend itself vigorously in the opioid litigation, the company has made clear that it sees little good coming from years of wasteful litigation and appeals. The people and communities affected by the opioid crisis need help now. Purdue believes a constructive global resolution is the best path forward, and the company is actively working with the state attorneys general and other plaintiffs to achieve this outcome.”

When we asked Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford's office about the news of Purdue Pharma's possible offer, they provided the following statement; "...the media articles reference an unofficial offer from Purdue that our office is unable to provide comment on. We will continue to move forward with our litigation to obtain the most favorable settlement for Nevadans."

$572 million dollars -- that's how much a judge says Johnson & Johnson owes the state of Oklahoma for creating a public nuisance over the opioid addiction crisis.

13 Investigates reported about insider emails and information from a DEA database, which pharmaceutical companies and distributors didn't want the public to see.

Leaders in the addiction recovery community are saying the decision in Oklahoma is a great precedent.

Lawyers representing over 2,000 communities in a federal case say this is "Another milestone amid the mounting evidence" that the pharmaceutical industry created, "...the largest public health crisis of our time."

The Oklahoma case is the country's first state trial against the companies accused of contributing to the widespread use of addictive painkillers.

Oklahoma argued Johnson and Johnson aggressively marketed the pills overstating their effectiveness and down-playing the addiction risk.

Today's verdict gives hope to others around the country waging similar court battles.

Las Vegas attorney Robert Eglet is representing over a dozen Nevada counties and cities in lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and several other companies. The local governments are seeking damages estimated at $4 billion for costs to emergency services and the court systems overwhelmed by the addiction epidemic.

"This is the worst domestic crisis of our life time. And we got to do something about it," says Eglet. "And there needs to be a day of reckoning for these pharmaceutical opiate manufacturers and distributors. They need to pay and compensate for the damages that they have devastated our communities with."

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