Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Oklahoma wins opioid case against Johnson & Johnson, a case of corporate accountability

As I wrote in 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver' on opioids updates decreasing life expectancy for the eighth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, "One of the main reasons why Life expectancy declined in the U.S. for three consecutive years has been the opioid epidemic."  I also wrote in Americans agree on a few issues, Pew Research Center finds that "drug addiction stands out to me as the issue with the best combination of agreement between partisans and high number of people who think it's a major problem."  In those contexts, the judgment Oklahoma won against Johnson & Johnson stands out as the first of what may be many public actions to do something major about an issue that most Americans, regardless of ideology, agree is a major problem.  It is also a major news story.  I begin the coverage with CNN's Oklahoma wins landmark opioid case.

In a landmark decision, an Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the state's opioid crisis.
That was good reporting of the decision as well as some hot takes from experts.  For more in-depth analysis, I turn to PBS NewHour's What Okla. judgment against Johnson & Johnson means for opioid accountability.

An Oklahoma judge delivered a $572 million judgment against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson in the first major legal decision to go against a drugmaker for its role in the opioid crisis. The judge found the company’s marketing practices helped flood the state with painkillers. William Brangham talks to StateImpact Oklahoma’s Jackie Fortier about the case's unusual argument and broad impact.
So this case may serve as legal precedent for the one in West Virginia that is using a similar legal argument.  That makes it important.

Finally, I remind my readers of the larger context with BBC News's Why are people in the USA living shorter lives?.

While most of the world’s population can look forward to living longer, white people in the United States without a college degree are living shorter lives due to an epidemic of drug abuse and alcoholism. Nobel economist Sir Angus Deaton says these "deaths of despair" are driven by inequality.
Pointing out that people in the U.S. are killing themselves because they are suffering from the failures of capitalism makes not just the opioid crisis, but also rising suicide rates, an issue of corporate reform as well as public health.  That adds another dimension to the story that ties into one of Coffee Party USA's End State Goals.  Under corporate corruption reform, the organization declares "Corporations have a responsibility to respect and support...the general public."  The cases in Ohio (mentioned by CNN), Oklahoma, and West Virginia are ways of reminding the pharmaceutical companies of that.

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