An Oklahoma judge in the United States has ruled that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid drug crisis and ordered the consumer products giant to pay $572 million to help address the problem.
Cleveland County Judge Thad Balkman gave the decision Monday in America’s first state trial against the companies accused of contributing to the widespread use of the highly addictive painkillers.
The company is expected to appeal, AP reported.
Oklahoma attorney-general argued the company aggressively marketed opioids for years in a way that overstated their effectiveness and underplayed the addiction risk.
Oklahoma previously reached a $270 million settlement with Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma and an $85 million deal with Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Oklahoma’s case could shape negotiations to resolve roughly 1,500 other opioid lawsuits consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.
The Oklahoma case was at the forefront of a wave of lawsuits against drug companies over the opioid crisis.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter called consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson a “kingpin” company that helped fuel the most devastating public health crisis in the state’s history. Company attorneys say they acted responsibly and that the evidence doesn’t support the state’s claim.
Two other groups of defendants that manufactured opioids reached settlements before the trial started May 28.