Intended for healthcare professionals


Johnson and Johnson ordered to pay $572m in landmark opioid liability case

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 29 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5319
  1. Owen Dyer

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that Johnson and Johnson helped to fuel the state’s opioid crisis, in the first case where a US court has found an opioid maker liable in America’s addiction epidemic.

Thad Balkman, Cleveland County district judge, ordered the company to pay Oklahoma $572m (£467m; €516m) to fund treatment programmes, law enforcement, and other costs associated with the epidemic.

“The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma and must be abated immediately,” Balkman said, reading his decision. “As a matter of law, I find that defendants’ actions caused harm.”

The ruling comes as Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and a company frequently accused of promoting excessive opioid use by physicians, is mulling a global settlement of over 2000 consolidated lawsuits that could see its owners, the Sackler family, relinquish control of the company.

Purdue was originally one of …

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