Oklahoma AG Calls Johnson & Johnson an Opioid Kingpin
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
On Monday, Cleveland County, Oklahoma District Court Judge Thad Balkman ruled for the state against Johnson & Johnson, saying:
J&J “caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths and neonatal abstinence syndrome, in Oklahoma,” adding:
“(M)isleading marketing and promotion (of the company’s opioids) compromised the health and safety of thousands of Oklahomans.”
“We have proven that Johnson & Johnson have built its billion dollar brand out of greed and on the backs of pain and suffering of innocent people” — despite warnings from its scientific advisors.
The state sought $17 billion in damages, $572 million alone awarded, a far too little slap on the wrist.
Following the ruling, Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter said J & J CEO Alex Gorsky should write a check and not appeal.
Lead state attorney Brad Beckworth said “(w)e’ve shown that J & J was at the root cause of this opioid crisis,” adding:
“It made billions of dollars from it over a 20-year period. They’ve always denied responsibility and yet at the same time they say they want to make a difference in solving this problem. So do the right thing: Come in here, pay the judgment.”
The issue is far from resolved, J & J to appeal, many other states suing opioid producers.
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma settled with Oklahoma, agreeing to a $270 million fine. Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay the state $85 million.
Millions of uninsured and way underinsured Americans, endangering their lives and welfare, along with the widespread/growing opioid epidemic, are the most serious US healthcare crises left unaddressed by US policymakers.
Both issues are all about their service to corporate interests at the expense of the public welfare.
The opioid crisis is fueled by Big Pharma greed and indifference to the health and welfare of ordinary people — facilitated by ruling authorities in Washington, doing little to contain the crisis beyond rhetorical posturing.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the top five pharmaceutical companies by market share.
In 2018, global pharmaceutical sales were about $1.2 trillion. J&J’s 2018 revenues exceeded $81 billon from all its divisions.
Opioid addiction is the leading drug overdose issue in the US, responsible for over 50,000 deaths in the country annually.
According to information published by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), drug producers and distributors sold about 76 billion opioid pain pills between 2006 and 2012 alone, likely much more in years after this timeframe to the present day.
Millions of Americans use legal and illicit opioids. Trump earlier declared a public health emergency, yet did nothing to address it, no plan or federal funding to combat the crisis, no efforts to control the proliferation of these drugs.
Public Citizen (PC) called for “unprecedented action needed to curb the opioid crisis.”
Accusing the FDA for being “too quick to approve (new) opioids,” PC called for a moratorium on new approvals.
A PC petition to address the opioid crisis said “(t)he FDA’s continued approval of new potent opioids, which are known to threaten the public health, without first significantly improving the review process by creating and finalizing an opioid regulatory framework recommended by the National Academies, represents a clear and present continuing danger to the health and safety of people in this country,” adding:
“(T)he FDA does not have a framework to effectively evaluate (applications) for new opioids ansd new opioid formulations to determine whether the legal standards for establishing safety and effectiveness are met. Thus, an immediate moratorium on opioid approvals is needed urgently.”
Oklahoma was the first state to sue opioid makers, other states following suit, legal action to play out for some time to come.
According to advocacy group Shatterproof CEO Gary Mendell, the Oklahoma ruling “is a critical step in setting a precedent for the largest public health crisis facing our country, bringing justice to the lives lost, and reversing the course of the addiction crisis for future generations.”
Opioid producers and distributors flood communities with these dangerous drugs, ignoring the harm to users.
They traffic in these dangerous substances even after fined for abusive practices.
Trump is like the vast majority of others in Washington, serving corporate interests, doing nothing to curb their destructive practices.
The drug industry fueled opioid crisis keeps worsening because of a bonanza of profits it generates.
Congress and the White House are doing nothing to stop them. The US political process is money controlled, aspirants and officeholders bought like toothpaste, beholden to their large donors.
Big Pharma’s deep pockets assure lawmakers and the executive serve its interests, no matter the harm to public health and welfare.
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