Judge Thad Balkman ruled Monday that Johnson & Johnson must pay $572 million for its role in creating an opioid crisis in Oklahoma.
According to state attorneys, approximately 6,000 people died from opioid overdoses in Oklahoma since 2000. Johnson & Johnson reportedly provided 60 percent of the opiate ingredients that drug companies use for addictive painkillers.
“Those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans. The opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans,” Judge Balkman said.
During the trial, attorneys for the state argued that Johnson & Johnson carried out a years-long marketing campaign that downplayed the risks of addictive painkillers and promoted their benefits.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter told reporters that they’re very proud to be where they are today.
Johnson & Johnson said that they plan to appeal the ruling.
“Janssen did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and neither the facts nor the law support this outcome,” Michael Ullmann, an attorney for Johnson & Johnson said, referencing a subsidiary pharmaceutical company also named in the suit. “We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We are working with partners to find ways to help those in need.”
“The unprecedented award for the State’s ‘abatement plan’ has sweeping ramifications for many industries and bears no relation to the Company’s medicines or conduct,” Ullmann added.