As opioid settlements grow, so do questions about the money

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s legal fight against the opioid industry has racked up settlements and judgments of nearly $1 billion.

As the numbers keep rising, so do concerns over how that money will be spent.

Experts say the $572 million judgment issued Monday against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson could pay for a year’s worth of statewide drug-treatment efforts. But the company has already announced plans to appeal, which could tie up the money for years. Meanwhile, addiction counselors worry about when their clients might get more help.

An Oklahoma judge ordered the payment after ruling that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid crisis. The judgment was more than twice the amount Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma agreed to pay in a separate settlement.

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