Opioid Case Against Johnson & Johnson Is In The Hands Of Oklahoma Judge

Jul 16, 2019

After a seven-week trial, a judge in Oklahoma is now considering whether Johnson & Johnson should be held responsible for the state's opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit, which is the first of its kind to play out in court, alleges Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the opioid crisis with aggressive marketing, leading to thousands of overdose deaths. The state is asking for more than $17 billion.

In his closing arguments on Monday, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter called the Johnson & Johnson the kingpin of the opioid crisis.

"What is truly unprecedented here is the conduct of these defendants on embarking on a cunning, cynical and deceitful scheme to create the need for opioids," said Hunter.

When it was his turn, the company's lawyer Larry Ottaway, said opioids are already subject to a litany of rules.

"This is not a free market," said Ottaway. "The supply is regulated by the government."

If the state prevails, Johnson & Johnson could have to spend billions to help ease the epidemic in Oklahoma.

The judge indicated his ruling could come later this summer.