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First Major Opioid Crisis Lawsuit Goes To Trial In Oklahoma

Lawyers for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson appeared in state court in Norman, Oklahoma, Tuesday.
Posted at 11:27 AM, May 28, 2019

A landmark trial involving the opioid crisis began in Oklahoma Tuesday, one that could set a precedent for other states looking to hold drugmakers accountable for the epidemic.

Attorney General Mike Hunter's lawsuit says Johnson & Johnson acted as the "kingpin" behind the opioid epidemic by using marketing campaigns that downplayed the dangers of highly addictive opioids and overstated their benefits.

Johnson & Johnson denied those accusations and said it acted responsibly in providing FDA-approved pain medications.

Other pharma companies, including Purdue and Teva, were scheduled to appear in court alongside Johnson & Johnson. But those companies announced multi-million dollar settlements with Oklahoma before Tuesday's court date, leaving Johnson & Johnson as the only defendant.

Pharmaceutical companies are facing hundreds of lawsuits accusing them of helping fueling the opioid crisis. But this is the first suit to go to trial.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.