Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson & Johnson opioid payout to $465m | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 17, 2019

Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson & Johnson opioid payout to $465m

An Oklahoma judge on Friday said Johnson & Johnson must pay that state $465 million for fueling the opioid epidemic through the deceptive marketing of painkillers, down from his original award of $572 million.

The decision by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in Norman, Oklahoma, came in the first case to go to trial out of 2,700 nationally by states, counties and cities seeking to hold drug companies responsible for the deadly epidemic.

Balkman reduced the amount he had awarded in August by $107 million after agreeing with New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J that he had made a math error.

J&J said it will appeal, and that the award and finding of liability were “neither supported by the facts nor the law.”

A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said that office is reviewing the decision and will formally respond within the next few days.

Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following a non-jury trial, Balkman ruled in August that Oklahoma had proven that J&J engaged in misleading marketing about the benefits of painkillers, and that their addictive risks caused a public nuisance in the form of the opioid crisis.

Hunter had sought to have J&J pay $17 billion to help fund addiction treatment and other services to repair damage from the opioid epidemic over the next 30 years.

Balkman, however, awarded only enough money for one year of programs, saying Oklahoma failed to support its claims regarding the need to abate the epidemic in future years.

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