WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Opioid manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has been ordered to pay $572 million to Oklahoma for misrepresenting their products and contributing to the opioid crisis.
That landmark win today against the opioid crisis could mean a positive step forward for New Hanover county’s own fight. Almost two years ago, New Hanover County joined with hundreds of other state and local governments from across the country to file a federal lawsuit against several drug manufacturers, such as Purdue Pharma and Cardinal Health.
Today’s decision in Oklahoma was the first state opioid case to actually go to trial. Some say this could pave the road for current ongoing lawsuits, such as New Hanover County’s own litigation. Optimistic about the future, many locals believe this is a positive step in the right direction.
Pamela Morrison is the Program Director for Coastal Horizons, a local drug and alcohol treatment facility, and she has been following the decision very closely. As someone who has personally worked with victims of opioid abuse, Morrison believes that while the decision made today was an important one for other lawsuits, the fight against the opioid crisis still has a long way to go.
She points out that she has “hope that with decisions like this people can be held accountable but also that money and funds will be available to help people access treatment and to engage in prevention efforts to stop the progression of opioid use.”
She continued explaining that “reducing stigma, treating people and focusing on prevention is going to be critical so the more that we’re able to open up conversations about the opioid epidemic, the more that we’re able to engage people in honest and meaningful conversations.”
Wilmington has previously been named "ground zero” for the opioid crisis and was at one time listed as the worst city in the country for opioid abuse. New Hanover County’s trial is expected to start this October in Cleveland, Ohio.