Opioid Ruling on J&J May Be Good News ... for Big Pharma

Johnson & Johnson must pay $572M over opioid crisis, but prosecutors wanted far more
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2019 11:50 AM CDT
Judge Thad Balkman reads a summary of his decision in the opioid trial at the Cleveland County Courthouse in Norman, Okla., Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Balkman ruled in favor of the state of Oklahoma and ordered...   (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – It seemed like bad news for Johnson & Johnson. On Monday, an Oklahoma judge ordered the company to pay $572 million because of its role in fueling the opioid crisis. Why, then, did the company's stock rise 5% in late trading Monday and continue to rise Tuesday? Because things could have been much, much worse, given that state prosecutors were seeking $17 billion, notes CNBC. Other drugmakers—including Teva, Endo, and Mallinckrodt—saw similar bumps Monday, though their rallies faded Tuesday. Still, it may be too early for Big Pharma to celebrate, given that more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits are pending across the US. Here's a look at coverage in the wake of Monday's landmark ruling:

  • The decision: So what did Johnson & Johnson do wrong in Oklahoma? Among other things, it ran a "false and dangerous" sales campaign that contributed to people getting hooked, declared Judge Thad Balkman. The Guardian breaks down some key points in his ruling. He found that J&J underplayed the risk of addiction, for instance.

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