For the first time, a pharmaceutical company is on trial for its role in the opioid crisis in Oklahoma this week. Johnson & Johnson—the corporate giant better known for its baby products—produces a fentanyl patch and previously also manufactured an opioid pill. In opening statements Tuesday, lawyers made a sweeping case against the company, accusing it of driving demand for opioids while the drug ravaged Oklahoma. The state says Johnson & Johnson targeted children and veterans to sell opioids. In court filings, Attorney General Mike Hunter likened Johnson & Johnson to a “kingpin” that has been targeting an unsuspecting public since the 1990s. Purdue Pharma settled with Oklahoma in March for $270 million, and Teva Pharmaceuticals reached an $85 million settlement deal Sunday, just ahead of the landmark trial. This leaves Johnson & Johnson as the only defendant in the first civil trial of its kind. The trial is expected to last two months, and will set the stage for the nearly 1,900 federal and state lawsuits targeting drug makers and distributors pending around the country. We speak with Jan Hoffman, a reporter for The New York Times who is covering the landmark opioid trial in Oklahoma.
Jan Hoffmanreporter for The New York Times who is covering the landmark opioid trial in Oklahoma.