An Oklahoma judge is holding Johnson & Johnson responsible for the state’s opioid crisis. In Monday’s ruling, the judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $575 million as a result.
The fine falls short of the $17 billion the state’s attorney general was seeking. The verdict marked the first time a corporation has been found responsible for the painkiller abuse epidemic that began two decades ago.
The case began in 2017 when Oklahoma sued Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The judge says Johnson & Johnson bears responsibility for helping fuel the state’s opioid epidemic by aggressively marketing painkillers. Johnson & Johnson says they’re not to blame.
Johnson & Johnson attorney Sabrina Strong says, “Johnson & Johnson did not cause the opioid abuse crisis here in Oklahoma or anywhere in this country.”
The damages awarded to Oklahoma are intended to fund an abuse abatement program that would cover the state’s addiction- related expenses.