Communities across Texas and the U.S. are closely following an epic courtroom showdown in Oklahoma as the first trial seeking to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for damages caused by opioid addiction gets under way. At stake are thousands of similar lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical companies and other entities along the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Two corporate defendants – Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries – settled before trial, leaving Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals to defend allegations that its marketing and sales of highly addictive opioid drugs are to blame for widespread economic and societal damages caused by the addiction plague.
“Oklahoma’s case is the first to be heard in a courtroom, but it won’t be the last,” said Majed Nachawati, co-founder of Dallas-based Fears Nachawati, which represents local, regional and state governments in similar litigation. “Even though Purdue and Teva chose to settle rather than face the facts in a courtroom, this trial will provide a roadmap for future trials, and its outcome will be very important for defendants weighing the risk of facing a jury.”
The other two defendants in Oklahoma’s case, Purdue and Teva Pharmaceuticals, settled for $270 million and $85 million, respectively. With a legal playbook influenced by tobacco litigation of the 1990s, the opioid litigation is likely to be one of the most important courtroom battles in recent history.
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