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Ferguson statement on court order against Johnson & Johnson

Attorney General Bob Ferguson offers the following statement on a recent ruling in his lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson:

“In a victory for accountability and transparency, a King County Superior Court judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to produce more than 100,000 documents related to its opioid business. They have been withholding these documents from us for more than 3 years. Johnson & Johnson has also been hiding these documents from the more than 3,000 cities and counties involved in the Multidistrict Litigation against the company.

“This victory demonstrates why we believe it’s in Washingtonians’ interest that we reject Johnson & Johnson’s deeply insufficient settlement offer in order to pursue real accountability at trial. 

“Accountability means more than a check. It includes a public accounting. One of my goals is to daylight Johnson & Johnson’s actions, and consider how those actions impacted communities across Washington, and the nation.  

“Johnson & Johnson wants to hide its conduct. The following are just examples of more than 100,000 relevant documents Johnson & Johnson has been refusing to turn over to my legal team:

  • Johnson & Johnson refused to produce the documents regarding a meeting between a Johnson & Johnson vice-president and a Purdue Pharma executive ‘to explore ways in which we might work together in pain management.’
  • Johnson & Johnson refused to produce documents related to studies addressing the safety and appropriateness of using a fentanyl patch on children as young as 2, as well as documents related to proposed label changes to encourage pediatric use of fentanyl. 

“After a legal battle, King County Superior Court Judge Patrick Oishi ordered Johnson & Johnson to turn these documents over. Had we not won, these records may never have seen the light of day. The court — and the public — deserves to know the extent of Johnson & Johnson’s culpability in fueling the opioid crisis that has devastated tens of thousands of Washington families.

“This victory also speaks to the tremendous effort and skill of my legal team handling our opioid litigation. We are aggressively litigating all of our opioid cases, and we are keeping these multinational corporations and their army of lawyers on their heels. Consequently, we are in a position to reject Johnson & Johnson’s woefully insufficient national settlement offer — a deal that will allow Johnson & Johnson to surrender less than half of its annual profits spread out over 9 years — and prepare for trial.”

Washington’s trial against Johnson & Johnson is set for January 2022.

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