Landmark victory: Johnson & Johnson forced to pay $572 million for their role in the opioid epidemic

"The opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans."

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With still thousands of cases pending against Big Pharma companies for their role in the opioid epidemic, a landmark ruling in Oklahoma is holding one company accountable.

A judge in Oklahoma, where the first lawsuit filed against opioid makers and distributors went to trial, has ruled that Johnson and Johnson must pay $572 million for its part in flooding the state with opioids.

The state of Oklahoma had previously settled with other drug manufacturers Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceutical earlier this year.

“Those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans,” said Judge Thad Balkman in his ruling. “The opioid crisis is an imminent danger and menace to Oklahomans.”

Balkman also noted that the payment will be used for the care and treatment of opioid addicts.

“Johnson & Johnson executives made the calculated and coldblooded decision that they were going to produce a mutant strain of poppy, corner the market and supply massive amounts of the active ingredients for other companies to manufacture opioids,” said Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.

Johnson & Johnson, through contracts with poppy growers in Tasmania, has supplied 60 percent of the ingredients that drug companies use in opioid painkillers. The opioid epidemic has resulted in the deaths of nearly 400,000 Americans during the last 20 years. Nearly 400 Oklahoma residents died as a result of opioid addiction in 2017 alone.

Thousands of lawsuits across the U.S. are still pending, with local governments attempting to hold companies accountable for flooding their communities with opioid pills and aggressively marking opioid painkillers as non-addictive and safe for long term use. The case in Oklahoma is the first to have gone to trial wheareas many others have been settled out of court.

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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.

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