Spotlight on Oklahoma for start of trial for opioid makers

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma is poised to become the first state to go to trial in a lawsuit against the makers of pharmaceuticals blamed for contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.

Several states have reached settlements with drugmakers. But the trial set to begin Tuesday in Norman against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson and several of its subsidiaries could bring to light documents and testimony that show what the companies knew, when they knew it and how they responded.

The outcome could also shape negotiations on how to resolve the roughly 1,500 opioid lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments. Those have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.

Oklahoma alleges the defendants helped create a public health crisis in the state by extensively marketing highly addictive opioids in a way that overstated their effectiveness and misrepresented addition risk.

The drugmakers deny those claims.

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