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Landmark US opioid trial begins in Oklahoma


AFP Chicago
The first civil trial that could end up holding a drug company responsible for the US opioid epidemic began Tuesday in Oklahoma, in a landmark case that might impact thousands of others like it.
The bench trial pits the state of Oklahoma against Johnson & Johnson. Two other drug companies named in the lawsuit settled ahead of the trial.
Oklahoma has accused the three drug makers of deceptively marketing addictive opioid painkillers, hyping their effectiveness and downplaying the risks of addiction.
The lawsuit is the first of many of its kind to go to trial, and seen as an important test of whether drug companies can be held accountable in court for an addiction epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of Americans.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter in opening statements accused Johnson & Johnson of being motivated by greed in embarking on "a cynical, deceitful multimillion-dollar brainwashing campaign" to sell opioids as a "magic drug." "It's time to hold them responsible for their actions," Hunter told the presiding judge, who will decide the case in lieu of a jury.
Johnson & Johnson has denied the charges levied by the state and its attorneys were scheduled to make opening statements later in the afternoon. There are some 2,000 lawsuits brought by states, cities and Native American territories across the country, all seeking compensation from makers of the highly addictive prescription painkillers.

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First Published: May 29 2019 | 12:55 AM IST

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