By Heide Brandes
NORMAN, Okla., July 15 (Reuters) - Lawyers for the state of Oklahoma on Monday urged a judge to hold Johnson & Johnson responsible for fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic, as the first trial nationally in litigation over the drug crisis came to an end.
Lawyers for the state, including Attorney General Mike Hunter, told a judge in Norman, Oklahoma that J&J knew opioids were addictive yet played down their dangers when promoting them, leading to an oversupply of pills that caused overdose deaths.
"This company went out and sponsored lies," Brad Beckworth, a lawyer for the state, said in his closing argument. "They went out and said the risk of addiction was less than 1%."
He urged Judge Thad Balkmanm, who presided over the multibillion-dollar nonjury trial, to find New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J liable for creating a public nuisance.
The case is one of around 2,000 actions by state and local governments accusing drug manufacturers of contributing to the opioid epidemic. Opioids were linked to a record 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Oklahoma case is being closely watched by plaintiffs in other opioid lawsuits, particularly in 1,900 cases pending before a federal judge in Ohio who has been pushing for a settlement ahead of an October trial.
At trial, lawyers for Oklahoma argued that J&J, which sold the painkillers Duragesic and Nucynta, had since the 1990s marketed opioids as "safe and effective for everyday pain" while downplaying their addictive qualities.
The state has accused J&J of acting as the "kingpin" behind the epidemic and says the company was motivated to boost prescriptions not only because it sold painkillers but because it also grew and imported raw materials that opioid manufacturers like OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP used.
J&J denies causing the epidemic. Its lawyers have argued that its products made up a small share of opioids prescribed in Oklahoma and carried U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved labels that warned of the addictive risks.
J&J, whose lawyers were expected to deliver their own closing arguments later on Monday, argues the state is seeking to stretch the bounds of a public nuisance statute in order to force J&J to pay up to $17.5 billion to remedy the crisis.
Purdue and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd were originally also defendants in the case. Purdue reached a $270 million settlement with the state in March and Teva settled for $85 million in June. Both deny wrongdoing. (Reporting by Heide Brandes; writing by Nate Raymond; editing by Noeleen Walder, Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)
Okla NORMAN 。路透纽约7月15日电---美国俄克拉荷马州的律师周一敦促一名法官裁定强生公司应对美国阿片类疾病的蔓延负责,因针对毒品危机的全国诉讼的首次审判宣告结束.
该州律师布拉德·贝克沃思（ BradBeckworth ）在最后的辩论中说：“这家公司出来了，并赞助了一些谎言。”“他们出去说成瘾的风险不到1%。”
在审判中，俄克拉荷马州的律师认为， J & J 公司出售了止痛药 Durgesic 和 Nucysta ，自20世纪90年代以来，在淡化他们的成瘾性的同时，将阿片类药物作为“日常疼痛的安全和有效的药物”上市。
美国政府指责强生（J&J）公司是这场流行病背后的“王牌”，并表示该公司有动机提高处方，这不仅是因为它销售止痛药，还因为它还种植和进口了阿片类药物制造商如 OxyContin 制造商 Purdue Pharma LP 使用的原材料。
强生（J&J）否认造成了这种流行病。该公司的律师辩称，其产品只占俄克拉荷马州规定的阿片类药物的一小部分，并带有美国食品和药物管理局( FDA )批准的标签，警告存在成瘾性风险。
Purdue 和梯瓦（Teva） Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd 原也是本案的被告。普渡在3月与该州达成了2.7亿美元的和解，而梯瓦（Teva）在6月达成了8500万美元的和解。两者都否认有不当行为。( Heide Brandes 的报道； Nate Raymond 的写作； Noeleen Walder 、 Steve Orlovsky 和 Jonathan Oatis 的编辑)