(Reuters) – The Gail Box today remembers today in May 2011 when she first taught her that her 22-year-old son Austin, a University of Oklahoma linebacker, abused opioid analgesics: It was the day he died of an overdose.
In a few months, he had gone from taking pills prescribed for a back injury to illegally getting more of the addictive drugs from familiar ones.
"We didn't know he abused," she said. "At that time, there was a lot of overwriting and I think people in his life could get him opioids."
The question of why painkillers flooded into Oklahoma and the rest of the country will be the central issue in a trial beginning Tuesday in Norman, Oklahoma, pitting the state against two drugmakers accusing it of burning the epidemic: Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter's $ 1
The state will try to convince the Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman to find that companies created a general inconvenience by using misleading marketing that played down their drugs' addictive risks while overcharging their benefits. Judge Balkman will rule after the trial, which will last eight weeks.
The state decided on related claims against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma LP in March for $ 270 million.
J & J and Teva deny irregularities and claim that the state has no evidence linking any marketing they did to doctors who wrote unauthorized opioid prescriptions.
They also argue that even though they marketed their products fraudulently, the state cannot prove that they caused the opioid epidemic as the role played by doctors, patients, pharmacists and drug dealers in it. 19659002] "The FDA-approved labels for these prescription painkillers provide clear information on their risks and benefits," said New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J in a statement. "The charges against our company are groundless and unfair."  The Israeli drug dealer Teva in a statement says it has in no way contributed to opioid abuse in Oklahoma and will vigorously defend itself.  In the wake of Purdue's March deal with Oklahoma, the state released many of its claims against the other two defendants and shifted its focus mainly to J&J, as it claims "acted as kingpin behind this public health situation."
The state claims that J & J and Teva fraudulently marketed opioids with Purdue by retaining prominent doctors to give talks advocating the use of opioids to treat chronic rather than short-term pain, and it is said that they financed g the clutches that were independent, and that these groups in turn promote the erroneous beliefs.
The state even claims J & J even marketed painkillers to children. It says that the company, which previously marketed painkillers Duragesic and Nucynta, also grew and imported the raw materials into spouses
Memories of tobacco settlement
The Oklahoma case is watching the plaintiff in other opioid cases, especially about 1,850 mostly state and state governments that have sued the same federal drug company in Ohio. The judge in this dispute drives the parties to reach a settlement agreement for a planned October test.
Some plaintiffs' lawyers have compared opioid cases to disputes by states against the tobacco industry which led to a settlement of $ 246 billion in 1998
Paul Hanly, a leading lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Ohio litigation, said the Oklahoma trial would have major consequences for a nationwide settlement.
"We will have the opportunity to see how these theories play out," said. "Anyone who cares about public health issues should be concerned about how the industry or part of the industry is taking pride in this case."
Ms. Box said she believes "greed" in the pharmaceutical industry caused the epidemic. Ms Box, whose husband, Craig, will testify, said she hopes some money recovered by the state can be used to fund treatment and research to combat opioid addiction.
"These are the things I hope to get out of this," she said. "Because at least myself and other families who lost their loved ones, nothing will come back to them."