Johnson & Johnson, Purdue and other opioid-peddlers face a reckoning

IN 2015 RICHARD SACKLER, from the billionaire family that controls Purdue Pharma, was deposed in a case related to his company’s alleged use—which it stoutly denies—of deceptive marketing to understate the addictive potential of OxyContin, its powerful opioid painkiller. The transcript of that testimony was unearthed this February, fuelling outrage over Purdue’s role in America’s growing opioid epidemic. On August 27th the video of Dr Sackler defending his firm’s flogging of OxyContin and other opioids finally emerged. This time, though, public fury was soothed by events of the previous day in Oklahoma. Judge Thad Balkman found Johnson & Johnson (J&J) guilty of creating a “temporary public nuisance” by contributing to the opioid epidemic which has claimed the lives of some 6,000 Oklahomans since 2000. He ordered it to pay $572m towards a plan to abate the crisis.

Critics of the opioid-pushers cheered. As long ago as 2004, Purdue settled a case alleging inappropriate marketing of OxyContin with regulators in West Virginia for $10m, without admitting guilt. Since then, observes Elizabeth Burch of the University of Georgia Law School, nearly all such cases have been settled, with details of the litigation remaining under seal. The landmark trial in Oklahoma, which began in May, has already revealed the industry’s unsavoury...

via Business Feeds

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