Oklahoma's Opioid Trial Ends, Judge Says He'll Release Findings In About A Month

Monday, July 15th 2019, 3:06 pm
By: News 9

After seven weeks of testimony, attorneys presented their final arguments in Oklahoma's historic trial against opioid maker Johnson & Johnson.

It's been a lot of back and forth between these attorneys throughout the trial.

There's a lot of money on the line, as the State of Oklahoma is looking to fund a 30-year, multi-billion dollar plan to fix what it calls the state's opioid crisis.

In the state's closing argument, attorney Brad Beckworth called Johnson & Johnson's case "nothing but a sham." 

"The kingpin of it all is Johnson & Johnson. They created it, they supplied it, they marketed it. And they took well-meaning Oklahomans, and they paid them to come into doctor's offices with bad information to target doctors. And they paid them to push pills. That's what drug dealers do. That's exactly how it works," said Beckworth. 

One of the most theatrical moments in the trial so far happened when Beckworth likened Johnson & Johnson's work with opioids to a game show called "Who wants to be a pain franchise billionaire?"

This was not a jury trial. Instead, Judge Thad Balkman will be the one to decide if Johnson & Johnson is responsible for flooding the market with opioids and should pay to abate the problem. He has said it will take about a month to release his findings. 

Reggie Whitten, an attorney for the state of Oklahoma in this case, lost a son to an opioid addiction. Whitten was given the final words at Monday's trial. 

"On behalf of all those who've lost their live, who suffer from this now, we respectfully ask this court to abate this nuisance, and you're the only one who has the power to do that," Whitten told the judge. 

John Sparks, Oklahoma counsel for Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson sent News 9 the following statement: 

"Throughout trial, our team repeatedly laid waste to the state's case which it built on misstatements and distortions. The facts are that Janssen appropriately provided essential pain treatment options to Oklahomans while balancing the inherent risks associated with these medicines.

The evidence presented by the state does not support its sweeping allegations. Instead, they unfairly and improperly continue to pursue to their unsustainable case - with broad ramification for industry- by asking the court to legislate and arbitrate this incredibly complex public health problem. 

Janssen and Johnson & Johnson will continue to work towards meaningful solutions, outside of the courtroom. We respectfully await the judge's decision." 

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter held a news conference at the conclusion of the closing arguments.

During the news conference, Hunter said he was pleased with the work of the state's attorneys and hoped for the satisfactory outcome for the state. 



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