The opioid crisis in the state of Oklahoma in the United States has turned into one of the biggest issues in the country over the past few years. It has become a hot topic in politics and has also raised questions about the conduct of some of the biggest corporations in the world. Many of the biggest corporations are now in the dock over the whole thing for their alleged roles in aiding and abetting the opioid crisis. In a new development, multinational giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a judge in Oklahoma to pay $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis in the state. The judge stated that J & J had encouraged doctors in the state to prescribe opioids, and in addition to that, the company continued to state that the talks about addiction were vastly overstated.
J & J has been involved in such activities for around two decades now and had helped instigate the opioid crisis in the state. For that period, as many as 6000 people have died due to addiction. According to Mike Hunter, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, J & J had been behind the ‘public nuisance’ that started back in the 1990s and led to deaths by addiction in the state. However, it is interesting to note that J & J denied that they were in the wrong and the company’s legal representative stated that the there had been a misinterpretation of the public nuisance law from the prosecutors.
Thad Balkman, the judge at the Cleveland County District Court, stated that the company had misled consumers with their marketing efforts and contributed to the crisis in the state. He said,
The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma, it must be abated immediately. For this reason, I’m entering an abatement plan that consists of costs totaling $572,102,028 to immediately remediate the nuisance.
However, J & J’s general counsel Michael Ullman stated that the company was not responsible for the opioid crisis in the state. He went on to state that such an award will also lead to panic among other industries. Ullman said,
The unprecedented award for the State’s ‘abatement plan’ has sweeping ramifications for many industries and bears no relation to the Company’s medicines or conduct.