Opioid Trial: Oklahoma and Johnson & Johnson Rest Cases

Friday, July 12th 2019, 3:08 pm
By: Robert McCarty

Oklahoma's opioid trial is coming to an end after seven full weeks.

Attorneys for the State and Johnson & Johnson rested, and are now preparing to make their final arguments to the judge on Monday.

Dr. Terrell Phillips, an OKC pain management doctor, rounded out Johnson & Johnson's case by giving the judge examples of patients he's treated with opioids, and talking about how it changed their lives for the better.

He talked about the company's sales representatives, and said in his experience, they never told him opioids were any more beneficial or any less dangerous than he knows them to be.

Phillips talked about men and women of different ages who have been on opioids for years at a time, and have had no issues with addiction or abuse. He said, for these people, opioids have changed their life, and allowed them to function in ways they couldn't without the medication.             

Phillips told the judge he'd have no issue recommending opioids to his own loved ones.

"I like to recommend to you what I would recommend if this was my wife, or my mother, or my family member," he said. "If it's not good enough for them, then I shouldn't be recommending it to you."

State of Oklahoma attorney Brad Beckworth worked to discredit Dr. Phillips.

Beckworth asked Phillips about Oklahoma's opioid epidemic, to which Phillips responded he wouldn't necessarily call it an epidemic.               

Beckworth was quick to point out a speaking engagement from 2016 where that's exactly what Phillips called the state's painkiller problem.

"It says, 'This is a serious topic, and since we've got an epidemic, and stop beating around the bush, it's time to talk serious about how we talk about pain management patients,'" Beckworth said, referencing Phillips' words in the video.

"You may have forgotten that happened back in 2016 huh?" Beckworth asked.

"I did," Phillips said.

Beckworth told the judge Friday he thinks many of Johnson & Johnson's witnesses did more good for the state than the company they testified to defend.               

However, a statement from the drug maker said their attorneys "laid waste to the State's far reaching case."              

This historic trial was one that began after the nation saw an increase of opioid abuse, addiction, and related deaths. Dozens of states have filed lawsuits against big pharmaceutical companies, but Oklahoma was the first to go to court against the drug manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.

Related Story - Oklahoma Takes On Big Pharma In Historic Trial

Since the beginning of the court hearings, Oklahoma has brought in several witnesses that claim the drug company is at fault for the state's epidemic.

Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson have repeatedly argued the company did "everything a responsible company should do" in marketing and selling its opioid products. A spokesperson for the company testified they take zero responsibility for the state's and the country's opioid epidemic.

Closing arguments are on Monday, July 15th. Judge Thad Balkman has said he could take at least a month to make a final ruling.


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