Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter dismissed most of his state’s case against Johnson & Johnson and Teva, winnowing down a landmark opioids lawsuit to a public nuisance complaint.
Hunter claimed that the climb-down came after “a blizzard” of pre-trial motions filed by the pharma companies’ lawyers and in an effort to get the case into trial. In a two-page motion, Hunter’s office dismissed allegations that the drugmakers defrauded Oklahoma’s Medicaid program and had unjustly enriched themselves on the backs of a crisis that kills about 130 Americans every day.
Oklahoma can refile the lawsuit because it withdrew its accusations without prejudice. And Teva and Johnson & Johnson still face major liabilities if they go to trial, still scheduled for May 28.
Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Janssen, is the named defendant in the Oklahoma lawsuit. Janssen’s National Counsel Sabrina Strong said Thursday’s dismissal of the fraud allegations “underscores their lack of merit.” The evidence will show that Janssen’s actions in the marketing and promotion of its pain medications were “appropriate and responsible,” Strong said.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals is the largest producer of Fentanyl used in hospitals for acute pain and Duragesic Patch used in chronic pain management.