Oklahoma judge finds J&J fueled opioid crisis

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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – An Oklahoma judge has found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid drug crisis and ordered the consumer products giant to pay $572 million to help address the problem.

Cleveland County Judge Thad Balkman issued the decision Monday in the nation’s first state trial against the companies accused of contributing to the widespread use of the highly addictive painkillers.

The company is expected to appeal.

Oklahoma argued the company aggressively marketed opioids for years in a way that overstated their effectiveness and underplayed the addiction risk.

Oklahoma previously reached a $270 million settlement with Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma and an $85 million deal with Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Oklahoma’s case could shape negotiations to resolve roughly 1,500 other opioid lawsuits consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.

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