ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh said the state may benefit after a judge found Johnson & Johnson guilty of fueling the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma.

An Oklahoma district court ordered Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Jannsen Pharmaceuticals to pay $572 million in damages. The court ruled the company’s opioid marketing was deceptive, false and misleading when it claimed the drug was non-addicting.

“This is what I believe the judge found,” Frosh said. “They knew drugs were addictive. They sold them claiming they were not addictive, and they sold way more than they should have sold, knowing the dangerous properties these drugs carried.”

Attorneys in other states call the court ruling a milestone amid the mounting evidence against the opioid pharmaceutical industry.

“Johnson & Johnson is one of the entities all the states are looking at,” Frosh said.

The verdict lays a groundwork of facts other jurisdictions won’t have to prove.

“Johnson & Johnson’s liability in Maryland will be established, and we may only have to prove damages,” Frosh said.

Maryland ranks in the top-five for opioid-related overdose death rates with the largest increase attributed to cases involving synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl.

The State of Maryland is already actively pursuing a case against Purdue Pharmaceuticals.


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