The Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, Mike Hunter, has requested that the state’s Supreme Court order Johnson & Johnson (J & J) to pay approximately $9.3 billion to cover costs associated with combating the opioid epidemic.
A lower court last year had ordered J & J to pay $465 million. However, Hunter argued that the lower amount would cover only one year of drug abatement costs.
MarketWatch.com reports that J & J appealed the $465 million order a year ago. J & J argued the award should be reduced to offset pretrial settlements between the state and two other drugmakers, including one for $270 million with Oxycontin manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, a disbanded, family-owned company that many consider the infamous face of the opioid epidemic.
AG Hunter claims that the lower court judge that ordered the $465 million settlement erred in his assessment because the “undisputed” evidence showed the crisis would take 20 years to abate.
Hunter’s brief offered the State Supreme Court an alternative payment plan: J & J can pay the lower court ruling amount ($465 million), albeit that amount for 20 years “or until the trial court determines the crisis has been abated, whichever comes first.”
Attorneys for the state will also ask OK’s Supreme Court to uphold the lower court judge’s finding that J & J is culpable for the state’s opioid crisis. In the ruling, the judge placed direct blame on J & J for their misleading marketing and distribution of opioids that triggered the crisis in the state.
A statement issued by the attorneys read, “Enough is enough. As Oklahomans have continued to suffer and die, all eyes are now on this case … The State of Oklahoma cannot — and will never — abate this crisis unless the Judgment is affirmed.”