An Oklahoma judge on Monday ruled against Johnson & Johnson in a historic opioid trial, ordering the pharmaceutical giant to pay the state $572 million, according to multiple media reports.
It’s the first trial in the U.S. where a drugmaker has been held accountable for helping fuel the opioid epidemic.
“The state met its burden that the defendants Janssen and Johnson & Johnson’s misleading marketing and promotion of opioids created a nuisance as defined by [the law], including a finding that those actions compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans,” District Judge Thad Balkman was quoted as saying by CNBC.
“Specifically, defendants caused an opioid crisis that’s evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome.”
J&J said it will appeal the decision.
The state had been seeking up to $17.2 billion to fix the epidemic over a 30-year plan.
Oklahoma is one of dozens of states suing opioid drugmakers and this case is the first state case to reach trial. A federal trial is slated for this fall in which nearly 2,000 cases involving cities, counties, communities and tribal lands have been rolled into one, accusing opioid makers of causing the epidemic.
Balkman’s decision comes after 33 days of testimony and 109 witnesses. The case featured everything from hours of mundane testimony about pharmacology to courtroom fireworks that were a sight to behold.