By: David Zhang
The trial between Oklahoma state, the prosecutor, and Johnson and Johnson, the defendant, (and one of the largest pharmaceutical suppliers and biotech companies in the world) closed just a few weeks ago. After seven weeks of arduous proceedings, both sides have made their closing statement, attempting to appeal to the Oklahoma State Court. The case is just one of over 2000 cases against pharmaceutical companies regarding the oversupplying of Opioids in 2017, which contributed to the growing opioid epidemic and resulted in 47,600 deaths that year. By creating an influx of Opioids, the companies allowed for easier access to them, causing many deaths nationwide. The prosecutor claims that because J&J owned subsidiaries which supplied the active ingredients for most of the opioids produced. The prosecutor has already won settlements against the producers of the opioids, who had underplayed the dangers of opioid addiction and overstressed their benefits to be able to sell more.
This case is special due to the fact that it is currently the largest case against any pharmaceutical company, as the prosecutors are demanding over 17 billion in reparations for the health costs that were incurred by this incident, including the deaths of over 6000 Oklahomans. Many of the other similar cases are currently waiting for the verdict on this decision, and many of the other cases will follow this case’s precedent. J&J fiercely denies wrongdoing, arguing that its marketing efforts were proper and that the state cannot prove it caused the opioid epidemic given the role doctors, patients, pharmacists and drug dealers played.
The verdict will most likely come within the next few weeks, but neither side will be likely to accept the outcome. This will likely go towards a court of appeals, and continue up the judicial system. However, the many smaller cases likely will follow the lead of this verdict, so the impact that this decision has is still immense.