Johnson & Johnson, one of many world’s largest drug producers, has gone on trial in a multi-billion greenback lawsuit by the US state of Oklahoma.
Prosecutors accuse the agency of deceptively advertising painkillers and downplaying habit dangers, fuelling a so-called “opioid epidemic”.
Johnson & Johnson denies wrongdoing and says it marketed merchandise responsibly.
It’s the first of two,000 circumstances introduced by state, native and tribal governments in opposition to pharmaceutical corporations within the US.
On common, 130 Individuals die from an opioid overdose every single day, in accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
In 2017, of the 70,200 individuals who died from an overdose, 68% concerned a prescription or unlawful opioid.
In its court docket submitting, Oklahoma alleged that Johnson & Johnson was the “kingpin” behind “the worst man-made public well being disaster in [the] state’s historical past,” rising and importing uncooked supplies which different drug-makers used for their very own merchandise.
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Media captionOn America’s path of destruction
What occurred in court docket?
In opening statements within the metropolis of Norman on Tuesday, the state stated that Johnson & Johnson together with Purdue Pharma – which produces the prescription painkiller OxyContin – and Israel-based Teva Prescription drugs had pushed medical doctors to prescribe extra opioids within the 1990s through the use of deceptive advertising.
State lawyer Brad Beckworth stated Johnson & Johnson did so by advertising opioids as “secure and efficient for on a regular basis ache” however downplayed addictive qualities and thus helped to create a drug oversupply.
“You probably have an oversupply, individuals will die,” he stated.
Mike Hunter, Oklahoma’s lawyer common, instructed the court docket that it was time to carry the businesses “liable for their actions”.
“That is the worst man-made public well being disaster in our state’s historical past. To place it bluntly, this disaster is devastating Oklahoma,” he stated.
For Johnson & Johnson, lawyer Larry Ottaway stated the corporate’s advertising statements had been no totally different to these made by the US Meals and Drug Administration in 2009 which stated painkillers, when correctly managed, hardly ever brought about addictions.
“We’re not mocking anybody, however details are cussed issues,” he stated.
What is the background?
The state argues that Johnson & Johnson created a public nuisance which is able to value between $12.7bn (£10.02bn) and $17.5bn (£13.8bn) to treatment over the subsequent 20 to 30 years.
However the firm argues that the general public nuisance regulation doesn’t apply on this occasion.
Johnson & Johnson – in all probability greatest recognized for its child shampoo and child powder – produces a fentanyl patch which will be prescribed for extreme ache.
Fentanyl belongs to a category of medicine referred to as opioid analgesics, which change how the physique feels and responds to ache. It’s also used as a leisure drug, typically combined with heroin and cocaine.
Due to its excessive revenue margin for traffickers, fentanyl has develop into a big a part of America’s opioid disaster.
The newest authorized case is the newest in a string in opposition to painkiller producers over prescribed drugs.
Earlier this month, Teva Prescription drugs agreed to an $85m (£67m) settlement with Oklahoma over an analogous lawsuit which claimed its opioids had contributed to the deaths of 1000’s of individuals.
Purdue Pharma additionally reached a $270m settlement with Oklahoma in a separate case. The rich Sackler household, which owns the agency, has been charged with fraudulently transferring cash from the corporate to guard its funds from litigation.