University professor testifies in Johnson & Johnson opioid lawsuit
In a ruling that found Johnson & Johnson guilty of fueling the opioid crisis in the state of Oklahoma, a state judge cited University Prof. Andrew Kolodny (Heller). Kolodny's work at the University on addiction made him the prosecution’s star witness, The Courthouse News Service reports. As a result of this seven-week civil trial, Johnson & Johnson is now forced to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million, per an Aug. 26 article in STAT News.
Kolodny testified in the court trial as an expert witness. He is the co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and co-director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. According to the North Carolina Health News, he “estimates that $6 billion a year for at least a decade would be needed to set up enough evidence-based treatment to serve everyone who needs it on a walk-in basis in every county in the United States.”
According to the Courthouse News Service, this was the first opioid crisis lawsuit against drugmakers to reach a verdict. The state proved that Johnson & Johnson was misleading the market and promoting the drugs that resulted in a public health crisis — a crisis that has claimed the lives of 6,000 people in Oklahoma, according to an article from NPR.
According to a New York Times article about the trial, Kolodney said, “There would have been no OxyContin without J&J ramping up in Tasmania.” What he did emphasize, though, was that no singular company caused the opioid epidemic — other companies also contributed to the crisis, according to the same article.
The state sought out $17.5 billion from Johnson and Johnson, but did not receive that full sum. Initially, the lawsuit also included Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, but according to two NPR articles, the two companies settled for $270 million and $85 million, respectively. Both denied any wrongdoing in the settlement.