November 11, 2021

Around the nation: Oklahoma Supreme Court reverses $465M opioid verdict

Daily Briefing

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a 2019 ruling against Johnson & Johnson that required the company to pay $465 million for violating the state's public nuisance law, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, the District of Columbia, and Oklahoma.

    • California: Amy Abernethy—president of Verily's Clinical Studies Platforms—and Mike Pellini—managing partner of Section 32 and former chair and CEO of Foundation Medicine—last week published an op-ed calling for policymakers and researchers to achieve a fuller understanding of immunity by supporting the study of T cells. According to Abernethy and Pellini, U.S. regulatory agencies should require vaccine manufacturers and researchers to study T cells and antibodies in all large-scale Covid-19 vaccine studies to accurately measure the body's adaptive immune response to vaccines over time. They also called for the United States to use all available tools and resources to generate data that can be used to guide vaccination policies. (Abernethy/Pellini, Morning Consult, 11/4)
    • District of Columbia: President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that the federal government will continue to reimburse Covid-19 emergency response costs to states, tribes, and territories until April 1, 2022. According to White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, Biden approved the extension to help support Federal Emergency Management Agency-backed efforts such as vaccination clinics and public education campaigns. In addition, 100% federal reimbursement has been extended for National Guard members who have been deployed to help hospitals in the fight against Covid-19. (AP/Modern Healthcare, 11/10)
    • Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a 2019 ruling against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) that required the company to pay $465 million for violating the state's public nuisance law amid the opioid crisis in the state. In a five-to-one vote, the court ruled that the public nuisance law did not apply to J&J, and the drug manufacturer was not liable for Oklahoma's opioid crisis. In its opinion, the court wrote "J&J no longer promotes any prescription opioids and has not done so for several years." They continued, "Even with J&J’s marketing practices these ... medications amounted to less than 1% of all Oklahoma opioid prescriptions." Notably, a similar ruling was made in a California court last week when Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson determined several pharmaceutical companies could not be held responsible for the opioid epidemic in parts of the state. (Gonzalez, Axios, 11/9; Mann, NPR, 11/9; Hoffman, New York Times, 11/10)

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