Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $572M in first opioid case

A judge has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million to Oklahoma for its role in fueling the state’s opioid crisis, in a highly anticipated ruling likely to have implications for a mass of litigation across the country challenging opioid makers and distributors.

The ruling against the health care giant followed the country’s first trial brought by a state government seeking to hold a drugmaker responsible for the death and devastation wrought by the opioid epidemic. Local governments, hospitals and tribes have filed nearly 2,000 similar lawsuits — many of which have been tied together — challenging pharmaceutical companies over their alleged roles in flooding the country with powerful prescription painkillers.

Cleveland County District Court Judge Thad Balkman on Monday ruled Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed opioids and promoted misleading medical claims that underplayed the drugs’ addiction risk.