An American decision made headlines this week, as a court found a drug manufacturer liable for its role in the current opioid crisis, which is being called a public health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the past two decades.
Johnson & Johnson Decision
An American case made international headlines this week, after a court in Oklahoma issued a decision in which it ruled that the drug company Johnson & Johnson had intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids, thus contributing to the current opioid epidemic in the state.
The state of Oklahoma had sued the company for $17 billion to cover the costs of addiction treatment, drug courts and other services it said it would need over the next 20 years to repair the damage done by the opioid epidemic. The state argued that the company had deceptively and aggressively marketed opioids to doctors and patients as safe and effective.
The court found that Johnson & Johnson had breached the state’s “public nuisance” law and had promulgated “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns” that had “caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths” and babies born exposed to opioids.
While the court found in favour of the state, it did not award the full amount claimed. The court ordered the drug company to pay the state $572 million. The court stated that $572 million could pay for a year’s worth of services needed to combat the epidemic in Oklahoma.
Johnson & Johnson has already stated that it intends to appeal the decision.
Purdue Pharma Billion Dollar Settlement
After the issuance of the Johnson & Johnson decision, the New York Times reported that the Sackler family, owners of the OxyContin drug manufacturing company Purdue Pharma, is planning on giving up their ownership of the company and will pay $3 billion of their own money under terms of a settlement proposal to resolve thousands of similar federal and state lawsuits.
In addition to the family’s contributions, it has been reported the company will also contribute between $10 and $12 billion to settle the lawsuits.
Canadian Lawsuits Pending
The CBC has reported that the Johnson & Johnson case is being celebrated and watched carefully by Canadian lawyers, as similar lawsuits have been filed against drug makers in Canada.
For instance, the CBC reported:
“In Canada, the province of British Columbia launched its own class-action lawsuit a year ago against dozens of pharmaceutical companies in a bid to recoup the health-care costs associated with opioid addiction. The civil claim filed by the B.C. government names the maker of OxyContin — Purdue Pharma — as well as other major drug manufacturers, and also targets pharmacies, alleging they should have known the quantities of opioids they were distributing exceeded any legitimate market.”
In Canada, drug manufacturers owe a duty to warn as well as a duty of care to consumers at common law; they are also governed by provisions under sales of goods legislation and consumer protection laws.
The manufacturers, designers and retailers of consumer goods are obligated to ensure that their products meet safety standards and will not cause harm to consumers when put to their intended use. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a faulty or defective product, it is important to seek legal guidance as soon as possible, in order to preserve evidence for a possible lawsuit.
At Campbell Litigation, our lawyers are experienced and effective litigators who will work to represent your interests against the providers, creators and retailers of defective or faulty products. Call us today at 519-886-1204 or contact us online to arrange a no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyers.