J&J ordered to pay USD 572 million for opioid addiction crisis
J&J's shares rose about two percent to USD 130 in after-market trade following the decision.
"Janssen did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma, and neither the facts nor the law support this outcome," said J&J executive vice president Michael Ullmann.
"The unprecedented award for the state's 'abatement plan' has sweeping ramifications for many industries and bears no relation to the company's medicines or conduct."
J&J argued that the law was being inappropriately applied and that its products had a very small role in the addiction epidemic in Oklahoma and nationally.
Balkman said J&J had promoted its drugs by telling doctors and patients that pain was not being treated enough and that "there was a low risk of abuse and a low danger" in the drugs themselves.
"The defendants used the phrase 'pseudoaddiction' to convince doctors that patients who exhibited signs of addiction... were not actually suffering from addiction, but from the undertreatment of pain," he said in his decision.
He also said the company consciously downplayed risks it knew were present, pointing to the 2007 USD 600 million fine in a Virginia trial of Purdue Pharma, one of the leading prescription opioid makers, for misleading the health industry and the public about the highly addictive properties of its Oxycontin painkiller.
J&J is the first drugmaker to go to trial and the case is seen as a bellwether for thousands of possible criminal and civil suits over the seeming uncontrolled distribution of highly addictive painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, and J&J's Nucynta and Duragesic, between 2000 and 2015.
Two other major drugmakers accused in the same suit, Purdue Pharma of the United States and Israel's Teva, settled with Oklahoma before the case went to trial.
Purdue, which produced the widely abused opioid Oxycontin, agreed to pay the state USD 270 million in March and Teva negotiated an USD 85 million settlement.
Dozens of local and state governments across the country have also already exacted settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors to address their problems.