Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial

Post Reports
|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

So this is a landmark and defendants johnson and johnson and johnson's misleading marketing and promotion of tate's created a nuisance as defined by fifty s section one including finding that those actions compromise compromised the health and safety of thousands of oklahomans. It's the first time that a judge as ever held a drug company responsible responsible for the opioid epidemic lenny bernstein covers health and medicine for the post. He was in the courtroom in oklahoma yesterday. When a judge ruled that johnson johnson johnson will have to pay five hundred and seventy two million dollars for its role in the opioid crisis. He ruled that johnson and johnson. Jason took part in a campaign of misinformation deception that persuaded doctors and opioid consumers that these drugs dogs were less addictive than they really were and more helpful than they really were. He ruled that johnson and johnson because because it owned two companies for awhile that produced the active ingredients for opioids and sold them to other companies which which then turn them into drugs was responsible all of this despite the fact that johnson and johnson's own drugs account for just about one one percent of the opioids prescription opioids consumed in oklahoma city their argument is that they can't have played such a major role in the opioid epidemic amac but this judge found otherwise yes that was one of their arguments they made several but yes that that's the key right there they're saying how can we be held old culpable and asked to pay five hundred seventy two million dollars to clean this up if our drugs were only one percent of the opioids in oklahoma that is certainly one of the things that they will bring up on appeal so this five hundred and seventy two million dollars that johnson and johnson has been ordered to pay hey. Where is that money going well first off. We have to remember that. No one's gonna see that money probably for years if johnson and johnson does carry harry through on its promise to appeal they'll go up to the oklahoma supreme court i and that could take a couple of years and if they lost their they go to the u._s. Supreme court and that could take another couple of years typically the payment of the money would be stayed all that occurs. If by some miracle they turned around tomorrow and wrote a check either for five seventy two or something less than that it would be going to treatment it would be going to prevention education law enforcement emergency services. There are babies babies born dependent on opioids who need all kinds of care. There are children in foster care whose parents are unable to take care of them and so the state is taking care of them. All of those places would get some money and for the attorneys for the state of oklahoma and did did they feel like this five hundred and seventy two million dollars was what what they were looking for that. It's enough to take care of a lot of the problems saito seen so. This is probably the most interesting thing that happened yesterday. The the state of oklahoma asked for seventeen point five billion over thirty years so if you look at five hundred seventy two million <hes> it's a much smaller amount now now a judge bachmann said was i can tell that for the first year it's going to cost five hundred seventy two million to take care of this crisis what the state did not present me with sufficient evidence to decide is what happens after that. I just can't tell so. The number is much smaller than what the state asked for but it's a one in your number of course the opioid epidemic is not going to be abated one year. It's going to take decades and what what's really interesting about. This is the fact that this is just one line of many legal cases that are starting to come up against drug companies blaming them and holding them responsible for the opioid crisis so how what is this ruling in oklahoma effect what we might be seeing in these other legal cases against other drug companies around the country so we've got two sets of cases going foreword. We've got another forty some odd states that are suing any number of drug companies just like oklahoma and then we have cities counties native american tribes hospitals other groups numbering somewhere around two thousand plaintiffs and they are all consolidated in a federal case in cleveland so let's put that aside for a second looking at the state cases you would expect okay oklahoma one using these theories to the extent that that is possible under each state law you would expect that state to adopt as much of the strategy that oklahoma used as possible because after all it's a winning strategy at least here however we did have a case in north dakota in may where the judge threw out a similar claim against purdue and said that doesn't work here so while this is a landmark it subject to the vagaries of different states different laws different defendants <hes> on the state level now i will say that if a judge is willing to find a company liable and they only produce one percent of the drugs consumed in a state you might be encouraged by that because if you're suing mallon qrat if you're suing purdue if you're suing any of the larger manufacturers you might be thinking to yourself today. A boy johnson and johnson was held liable and they only produced one percent of drugs. I've got a guy who produced twenty or thirty percent of the drugs or a company that distributed twenty or thirty thirty percent of the drugs moving over to the federal lawsuit. It's much less certain. Federal cases are different from state cases and those are cities and counties rather than states so i think we should be cautious in the amount of influence with tribute <hes> to the federal cases so for the lawyers who were fighting on behalf of the seat of oklahoma. Uh what was the strategy or the legal argument that they were making that ended up being successful so oklahoma had one claim and one claim only they claimed that the drug companies and eventually it just became johnson johnson has they settled with a couple of others that that the drug companies created a public nuisance in the state of oklahoma that affected the health and wellbeing of every resident of the state public nuisance law aw is generally used for property problems is i am sledding your backyard with my sprinkler system. If if a polluter is polluting river if a brothel is creating a nuisance on the street and and we wanted shut down you go to the the court and you claim that it's a public nuisance and the remedy is that the court makes you stop it. Make me stop flooding your backyard. They closed down the brothel. They make the polluter stop. Stop putting stuff into the river. The lawyers here took a very novel approach to public nuisance. Lie may be unprecedented which they said said because public nuisance covers the health and well being of the residents of the state of oklahoma. We are claiming that johnson and johnson violated the public nuisance law because they affected the health of everyone here. Now oklahoma has a broad public nuisance law many other states and cities and counties. He's also have public nuisance laws but vary so it's not entirely certain whether that argument would work in other places but were tear when you look at the ruling from this case and the legal arguments that are being made in these other cases against companies that are being accused of fueling the opioid crisis. What do you think is the big question. That's being asked here the big question that's being thought about here in terms of culpability ability so anybody who even opens their eyes or reads the newspaper or watches television asian knows that we had a prescription opioid epidemic in this country for many years and it still continues today it. It may be a little bit on wayne but it happened and many thousands tens of thousands of people died. The question is can you prove to

Coming up next