In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.
A lawsuit was filed by the State of Oklahoma for what became “the opioid crisis” plaguing the nation. Several other states and municipalities have followed suit.
Following a seven-week trial this summer, Judge Thad Balkman ruled Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the opioid crisis with an aggressive and misleading marketing campaign that overstated how effective the drugs were for treating chronic pain and understated the risk of addiction. Oklahoma Attorney General prosecuted the lawsuit arguing that opioid overdoses killed 4,653 people in Oklahoma from 2007 to 2017. The trial led to the judge ordering consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million to help address the state’s opioid crisis. The judge then reduced the amount to $465 million.