The Oklahoma State Supreme Court has overturned a 2019 opioid judgment against Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) amounting to $465 million.
Five of the six Oklahoma Supreme Court’s justices dismissed the state’s case claiming that Johnson & Johnson breached its “public nuisance” laws in its marketing of prescription opioid drugs. “Oklahoma public nuisance law does not extend to the manufacturing, marketing and selling of prescription opioids,” the five justices wrote in their majority opinion.
Johnson & Johnson had argued that the judgment was flawed, arguing that the state did not show evidence that Johnson & Johnson caused a public nuisance in Oklahoma and that its claims violated core principles of due process.
Johnson & Johnson said in a press release that its prior sales of prescription opioids were “appropriate and responsible” but that the company has stopped selling such drugs as part of a larger effort to focus on new drug development.
Oklahoma’s litigation also had singled out Teva and Purdue Pharma — both of which had settled with the state before the Johnson & Johnson trial began.
Purdue reached a bankruptcy settlement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York earlier this year.
In 2017, Oklahoma created a commission focusing on opioid abuse to study the epidemic and formulate responses to it. In addition to efforts to hold “distributors, manufacturers and businesses accountable,” the commission also sought to limit the use of opioids for treating acute pain.
Earlier this month, four drug companies won a similar lawsuit in California, convincing a judge that there was no evidence they were liable in the opioid epidemic. The four companies named in that suit included Johnson & Johnson, Teva (NYSE:TEVA), Allergan (NYSE:ABBV) and Endo (NSDQ:ENDP).