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USA: Judge rules Johnson & Johnson should be held responsible for opioid addiction & overdose deaths in Oklahoma

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Article
14 October 2019

USA: Johnson & Johnson settles for $20.4 million in Ohio lawsuit for role in opioid crisis

Author: Shubham Kalia, Reuters

"Johnson & Johnson settles Ohio lawsuits to avoid federal trial," 2 Oct 2019

Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it will pay $20.4 million to settle claims by two Ohio countries, allowing the U.S. healthcare giant to avoid an upcoming federal trial seeking to hold the industry responsible for the nation's opiod epidemic.

J&J became the fourth drugmaker to settle claims ahead of the Federal Court trial against multiple manufacturers and distributors in Cleveland scheduled for later this month. The case is considered a bellwether for more than 2,600 lawsuits by state and local governments that are pending nationally.

“The settlement allows the company to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis,” J&J said in a statement.

“The company recognizes the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and is working collaboratively to help communities and people in need,” it added. 

Opioids were involved in 400,000 overdose deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

J&J which formerly marketed the painkillers Duragesic and Nucynta, said the settlement includes no admission of liability.

...Mallinckrodt Plc finalized a $24 million settlement with the same two counties on Monday. Endo International Plc and Allergan Plc also settled with the two counties in August to avoid going to trial.

...Earlier in the year, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572.1 million to the state for its part in fueling an opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing addictive painkillers.

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Article
30 August 2019

Johnson & Johnson To Appeal Flawed Opioid Judgment in Oklahoma

Author: Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies... announced they will appeal the $572 million civil judgment entered in Cleveland County District Court in the State of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers... The judgment disregards the Company’s compliance with federal and state laws, the unique role its medicines play in the lives of the people who need them, its responsible marketing practices and that since launch, DURAGESIC®, NUCYNTA® and NUCYNTA® ER have accounted for less than one percent of total opioid prescriptions in Oklahoma as well as the United States.

“Janssen did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and neither the facts nor the law support this outcome,” said Michael Ullmann, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Johnson & Johnson. “We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We are working with partners to find ways to help those in need.”...

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Article
28 August 2019

US court rules drugmaker Johnson & Johnson must pay $572m for its role in opioid crisis in Oklahoma

Author: Russell Hotten, BBC News New York

"Opioid crisis: Johnson & Johnson hit by landmark ruling", 27 Aug 2019

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson must pay $572m (£468m) for its part in fuelling Oklahoma's opioid addiction crisis, a judge in the US state has ruled...The company said immediately after the judgement that it would appeal.

The case was the first to go to trial out of thousands of lawsuits filed against opioid makers and distributors. Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths in the US from 1999 to 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2000, some 6,000 people in Oklahoma have died from opioid overdoses, according to the state's lawyers. Earlier this year, Oklahoma settled with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for $270m and Teva Pharmaceutical for $85m, leaving Johnson & Johnson as the lone defendant.

During Oklahoma's seven-week non-jury trial, lawyers for the state argued that Johnson & Johnson carried out a years-long marketing campaign that minimised the addictive painkillers' risks and promoted their benefits. The state's lawyers had called Johnson & Johnson an opioid "kingpin" and argued that its marketing efforts created a public nuisance as doctors over-prescribed the drugs, leading to a surge in overdose deaths in Oklahoma. Johnson & Johnson vigorously denied wrongdoing, arguing that its marketing claims had scientific support and that its painkillers... made up a tiny fraction of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma.

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Article
27 August 2019

Johnson & Johnson’s Brand Falters Over Its Role in the Opioid Crisis

Author: Katie Thomas and Tiffany Hsu, New York times

In the 1980s, Johnson & Johnson needed a reliable supply of opium for a popular product, Tylenol with codeine. So the health care conglomerate... bought a business that grew and processed opium poppies in faraway Tasmania, off the coast of Australia. By 2015, at the height of the nation’s opioid epidemic, Johnson & Johnson was the leading supplier for the raw ingredients in painkillers in the United States...

But on Monday, a judge in Oklahoma singled out Johnson & Johnson, ordering it to pay the state $572 million and ruling that the company should be held responsible for decades of opioid addiction and the thousands of overdose deaths in the state.

The judge cited the company’s overly aggressive marketing tactics: Sales representatives were coached to avoid the “addiction ditch” — the negatives associated with drug use and dependence — when encouraging doctors to prescribe opioids for patients with moderate to severe pain... For Johnson & Johnson, which has said it plans to appeal, the decision represents another blow to its reputation as the trusted brand...

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Article
26 March 2019

Purdue Pharma and Sacklers Reach $270 Million Settlement in Opioid Lawsuit

Author: Jan Hoffman, New York Times (USA)

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, the Sackler family, agreed to pay $270 million to avoid going to a state court trial over the company’s role in the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans over the past two decades.

The payment, negotiated to settle a case brought by the state of Oklahoma, was far larger than two previous settlements Purdue Pharma had reached with other states. It could jolt other settlement talks with the company, including those in a consolidated collection of 1600 cases overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland.

“Purdue appears to have concluded that it was less risky to settle the Oklahoma case than have the allegations publicly aired against it during a televised trial and face exposure to what could have been an astronomical jury verdict,” said Abbe R. Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School who directs the Solomon Center for Health Policy and Law...

“That said,” she continued, “the settlement does put a stake in the ground for the other cases. It telegraphs what these cases might be worth and makes the elephant in the room even larger — namely, do Purdue and the Sacklers have sufficient funds to give fair payouts in the 1600-plus cases that remain?”...

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