February 26, 2019
In a February 26th filing in Cleveland County District Court, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter alleged that Johnson & Johnson acted as an opioid “kingpin” by using a web of foreign and domestic subsidiaries to supply raw materials “necessary to manufacture the opioid pain medications thrust upon the unsuspecting public since the 1990s.”
In the court filing, Hunter argued that Johnson & Johnson should be compelled to release millions of pages of documents about its role in the opioid epidemic, saying Johnson & Johnson can no longer claim the material as confidential because it “faces no present competitive disadvantage from the public disclosure of its internal records relating to opioids created prior to July 2016.”
Hunter said the public deserves to know whether the company deliberately targeted children, the elderly and veterans for opioid painkillers and whether it blocked legislation and regulatory action aimed at limiting opioid availability.
Hunter noted that if Johnson & Johnson did not deliberately target the state’s most vulnerable population, “then J&J should have no problem agreeing to make all of its documents public.”
“The public,” he said, “deserves to know the face and name of the source, supplier and kingpin responsible for flooding and infecting this country with an unprecedented surplus of deadly drugs — J&J, a ‘family company.’ ”
Hunter said his case will demonstrate that Johnson & Johnson “acted as the kingpin behind this Public Health Emergency, profiting at every stage.” He said it is time for “J&J’s practice of cloaking its actions in secrecy [to] end.” “The public interest in this information is urgent, enduring and overwhelming,” he said in the filing.
Nix Patterson and co-counsel, Whitten Burrage, represent the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter in litigation against several manufacturers of opioid-based painkillers in a lawsuit filed in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, entitled State of Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, L.P., et al.