Oklahoma proceeds with $78 billion suit against drug-makers - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Oklahoma proceeds with $78 billion suit against drug-makers

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Numbers show the opioid epidemic claimed more lives nationwide in 2016 than the entire Vietnam War.

The addiction crisis has also claimed billions of dollars of taxpayer money for treatment and enforcement. There have been almost 3,000 opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma in the past three years.

Now the state is doing something about it.

After a four-hour hearing in Norman on Tuesday, Judge Thad Balkman said the state can proceed with its lawsuit against four major pharmaceutical companies: Purdue, Actavis, Cephalon and Janssen.

The lawsuit says the state has overwhelming evidence that the companies used false marketing campaigns.

"What happened is a systemic campaign funded by millions of dollars to make misrepresentation to these doctors," said Oklahoma's lead counsel Michael Burrage.

In a statement to The Oklahoman, Janssen Pharmecueticals defended its business practices.

"Janssen acted responsibly," the company said, adding that its products "are FDA-approved and carry FDA-mandated warnings about possible risks on every product label."

Attorney Reggie Whitten said the only true remedy is to attempt to collect the money the companies have taken from the state by addicting thousands of Oklahomans.

"We're seeking to recover that from these companies that have conspired to put greed ahead of safety," he said.

The state is seeking nearly $78 billion. The next step is to get a court date in Janurary.

Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri have all filed similar lawsuits, but have yet to go to trial. If Oklahoma gets its desired court date for the summer of 2019, it would be the first state in the nation to go to court.

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