In Oklahoma yesterday a judge ruled against Johnson & Johnson and ordered the company to pay the state $572 Million. Johnson & Johnson argued that the ruling is based on a public nuisance argument that has previously only been used in property disputes. The Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter argued that Johnson & Johnson had created circumstances where the marketing of the opioids had been done misleadingly and had contributed to the national epidemic causing statewide opioid addiction, in turn, creating a public nuisance.
Opioid addiction is responsible for over 70K deaths in the US each year and has become a national epidemic. Dozens of states are currently suing opioid pharmaceutical companies because of their failure to appropriately respond to the epidemic. Purdue Pharma agreed to pay Oklahoma $270 Million in March of this year and Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay Oklahoma $85 Million in May of this year. Recently Purdue Pharma offered to settle over 2000 opioid lawsuits around the country for more than $10 Billion.