Oklahoma Gets Trial Date for Suit Against Drug Makers

Jan 11, 2018

Oklahoma is the first state in the U.S. to get a trial date in its lawsuit against the makers of opioid painkillers.

The state and drug companies will meet in Cleveland County Court in May 2019.

"The state’s case is solid and our team is prepared to hold these companies accountable for their role in the deadliest drug epidemic the state and nation have ever seen," Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement.

Hunter filed the lawsuit in June, claiming misleading advertising for products from Purdue Pharma, Allergan, Cephalon and Janssen Pharmaceuticals over the past decade are behind the state's opioid epidemic.

Judge Thad Balkman ruled against the drug companies' motions to dismiss last month.

"We appreciate the urgency Judge Balkman saw in getting the case to trial," Hunter said. "Rather than dragging it out longer, which is what the companies had requested, Oklahomans who have suffered immeasurably from the years of fraudulent marketing campaigns will see this case resolved sooner rather than later."

In the last three years, nearly 3,000 Oklahomans have died from overdose deaths and more than 1,300 newborns have tested positive for substance exposure. In 2016, Oklahoma ranked first in the number of milligrams of opioids distributed per adult, and in the 14 counties surrounding Tulsa, there were enough opioids for every man, woman and child to have 90 pills.