Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson & Johnson opioid payout to $465 million

By Nate Raymond and Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) - An Oklahoma judge on Friday said Johnson & Johnson must pay that state $465 million for fuelling the opioid epidemic through the deceptive marketing of painkillers, down from his original award of $572 million. The decision by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in Norman, Oklahoma, came in the first case to go to trial out of 2,700 nationally by states, counties and cities seeking to hold drug companies responsible for the deadly epidemic. Balkman reduced the amount he had awarded in August by $107 million after agreeing with New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J that he had made a math error

Reuters November 16, 2019 03:07:15 IST
Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson & Johnson opioid payout to $465 million

Oklahoma judge reduces Johnson amp Johnson opioid payout to 465 million

By Nate Raymond and Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - An Oklahoma judge on Friday said Johnson & Johnson must pay that state $465 million for fuelling the opioid epidemic through the deceptive marketing of painkillers, down from his original award of $572 million.

The decision by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in Norman, Oklahoma, came in the first case to go to trial out of 2,700 nationally by states, counties and cities seeking to hold drug companies responsible for the deadly epidemic.

Balkman reduced the amount he had awarded in August by $107 million after agreeing with New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J that he had made a math error.

J&J said it will appeal, and that the award and finding of liability were "neither supported by the facts nor the law."

A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said that office is reviewing the decision and will formally respond within the next few days.

Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following a non-jury trial, Balkman ruled in August that Oklahoma had proven that J&J engaged in misleading marketing about the benefits of painkillers, and that their addictive risks caused a public nuisance in the form of the opioid crisis.

Hunter had sought to have J&J pay $17 billion to help fund addiction treatment and other services to repair damage from the opioid epidemic over the next 30 years.

Balkman, however, awarded only enough money for one year of programs, saying Oklahoma failed to support its claims regarding the need to abate the epidemic in future years.

Following the August ruling, Oklahoma asked Balkman for permission to return to his courtroom annually to prove those costs, but Balkman on Friday maintained his prior ruling.

J&J, meanwhile, argued that it deserved a $355 million credit, reflecting pre-trial settlements by the drugmakers Purdue Pharma LP and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd .

Balkman concluded on Friday that state law did not allow such credits.

Last month, J&J and four other companies proposed a $48 billion settlement framework to resolve all of the opioid cases they face, with J&J paying $4 billion. Lawyers for the local governments have opposed the proposal.

If approved, the settlement would let J&J resolve some of the thousands of product liability lawsuits it faces. The company also faces litigation over whether its baby powder causes cancer, a claim it denies.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by Tom Hals Wilmington, Delaware; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Amazon union vote enters final stretch in watershed moment for U.S. labour
Business

Amazon union vote enters final stretch in watershed moment for U.S. labour

By Mike Spector and Jeffrey Dastin (Reuters) - The National Labor Relations Board has begun reviewing ballots from Amazon.com Inc's workers in Alabama, who have voted on whether to form a union, with momentum for future labour organizing at America's second-largest private employer hanging in the balance. Agents from the labour board began sifting through ballots sent to more than 5,800 workers at Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama-based warehouse at 10 a.m

Spotify buys Locker Room app's maker Betty Labs in live audio push
News & Analysis

Spotify buys Locker Room app's maker Betty Labs in live audio push

By Elizabeth Culliford NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spotify Inc said on Tuesday it has purchased Betty Labs, the company behind sports-focused social audio app Locker Room, to accelerate its move into live audio. New voice-based platforms, including invite-only social app Clubhouse, have seen rapid growth in recent months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil falls as Suez Canal opens, dollar rallies; eyes on OPEC+ meeting
Business

Oil falls as Suez Canal opens, dollar rallies; eyes on OPEC+ meeting

By Devika Krishna Kumar NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices slid on Tuesday as the Suez Canal reopened to traffic and the dollar rallied, while focus turned to an OPEC+ meeting this week, where analysts expect an extension to supply curbs to offset dim demand prospects. Brent crude fell $1.20, or 1.9%, at $63.78 a barrel by 1:12 p.m.