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USA: Oklahoma prepares for lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over opioid crisis

Author: Jan Hoffman, New York Times (USA), Published on: 30 May 2019

Did the people who brought you baby powder and baby shampoo also bring you the opioid crisis?

That will be the question before an Oklahoma judge starting Tuesday, as the first civil trial takes off on the long, nationwide runway of trials against prescription opioid manufacturers, distributors and sellers.Oklahoma is squaring off against Johnson & Johnson, the New Jersey-based, family-friendly giant, which produces a fentanyl patch.

On Sunday, another defendant in the case, Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd., the Israel-based producer of generic medicines, including opioids, settled with Oklahoma for $85 million. Details of how the state will allocate the money have not yet been finalized...

The theory — that J & J violated public nuisance law — is also being raised in the first federal cases to go to trial in Cleveland, Ohio, currently set for Oct. 21. All eyes will look to the Oklahoma trial as an out-of-town rehearsal for that big show. How will witnesses perform? Which arguments will resonate?

“If J & J prevails in Oklahoma, they may feel they are gaining leverage” in the federal negotiations, said Alexandra D. Lahav, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law who is an expert on bellwether trials...

Through a company spokesman, J & J said that since 2008, its opioid medications have amounted annually to less than 1 percent of the opioid prescriptions written nationally. A Teva spokeswoman said its medications were administered infrequently in Oklahoma: Between 2007 and 2017, she said, the state reimbursed just 245 Actiq and Fentora prescriptions...

 

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Related companies: Johnson & Johnson Purdue Pharma Teva Pharmaceutical