In a landmark ruling, an Oklahoma judge has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for contributing to the state’s opioid crisis. It marks the first time a drug company has been held responsible for the opioid crisis, though it fell far short of the $17 billion judgment sought by the state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 400,000 people died from an overdose involving opioids from 1999 to 2017, including from prescription and illicit opioids. Court documents say more than 6,000 people have died of painkiller overdoses in Oklahoma alone. The Oklahoma ruling sets the stage for the more than 40 states that are currently pursuing similar claims against drug makers and distributors. A massive federal lawsuit brought by almost 2,000 cities, counties and Native American tribes is scheduled to begin in October. We speak with Julia Lurie, senior reporter at Mother Jones, who has covered the opioid crisis for years.
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