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Oklahoma lawyers say J&J is kingpin of pharmaceutical cartel

Published on 16/07/19 at 09:53am

Lawyers representing the State of Oklahoma described Johnson & Johnson as the ‘kingpin’ in a ‘pharmaceutical cartel’ as they accused the healthcare conglomerate of playing a central role in the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Oklahoma lawyers including Attorney General Mike Hunter told a judge that J&J’s ‘greed’ had led the company to sow ‘utter confusion’ about the risks of opioid painkillers with their years-long marketing campaign.

The state lawyers claimed that J&J misled the public as to the dangers of opioids despite knowing the harm they caused. J&J’s misleading marketing led doctors to overprescribe the drug as the US firm flooded Oklahoma with opioid drugs.

In comparing J&J to a drug cartel Oklahoma state lawyer Brad Beckworth said: “They didn’t get here from a Mexican cartel. They got here from the pharmaceutical cartel, and the kingpin of them all is Johnson & Johnson.”

The judge thus ordered J&J to pay $17 billion over 30 years in addressing the epidemic of opioids in the state of Oklahoma. Purdue Pharma and Teva both settled the same case for $270 million and $85 million respectively.

In defending the company J&J’s attorney Larry Ottaway said: “Only a company that believes its innocence would come in and defend itself against a state, but we take the challenge on because we believe we are right”

Louis Goss

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