Oklahoma State Supreme Court sides with opioid manufacturers

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma made headlines this week when they reversed a lower court’s ruling that found opioid manufactures guilty of creating a public nuisance. 

According to Oklahoma City’s News on 6, the Tuesday decision was five to one with three justices either disqualified or recused from the controversial case.

The state’s high court heard the appeal after opioid manufacturers were handed a verdict that would have cost them $465 million by the court in Cleveland County.

“We hold the opioid manufacturer’s actions did not create a public nuisance,” the court’s majority opinion stated in its 28-page ruling. “The district court erred in extending the public nuisance statute to the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of prescription opioids.”

Only one judge dissented, Justice James Edmondson who, in his minority opinion said that, “The Attorney General’s basic theory of the case is tenable, both in law and equity. The Court’s view of public nuisance is too narrow…”

Among those who would have been affected by the ruling were Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals along with several other drug manufacturers.

Johnson & Johnson issued a statement to News 9 following the court’s decision, which said, in part that they “recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue, and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected.

“The Company’s actions relating to the marketing and promotion of these important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible.

“Today the Oklahoma State Supreme Court appropriately and categorically rejected the misguided and unprecedented expansion of the public nuisance law as a means to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and sale of products, including the Company’s prescription opioid medications.”