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Johnson & Johnson to appeal “flawed” opioid judgment in Oklahoma

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. announced they will appeal the $572 million civil judgment entered in Cleveland County District Court in the State of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. The company is confident it has strong grounds to appeal this decision.

The judgment disregards the Company’s compliance with federal and state laws, the unique role its medicines play in the lives of the people who need them, its responsible marketing practices and that since launch, DURAGESIC, NUCYNTA and NUCYNTA ER have accounted for less than one percent of total opioid prescriptions in Oklahoma as well as the United States.

“Janssen did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and neither the facts nor the law support this outcome,” said Michael Ullmann, executive vice president, general counsel, Johnson & Johnson. “We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We are working with partners to find ways to help those in need.”

The company said the decision in this case is flawed. The State failed to present evidence that the company’s products or actions caused a public nuisance in Oklahoma. The State’s claims violate fundamental principles of due process by seeking to hold a company liable for conduct permitted under federal law and regulations. It also disregards 100 years of precedent in public nuisance law, which traditionally has been applied to resolve property disputes, not lawsuits involving the sale of goods.

“This judgment is a misapplication of public nuisance law that has already been rejected by judges in other states,” said Ullmann. “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.”


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