NORMAN, Okla. – A national company is now asking the Oklahoma Attorney General to retract statements he made after a historic opioid lawsuit.
For weeks, the state of Oklahoma argued that Johnson & Johnson fueled the opioid crisis in the state by oversupplying painkillers through deceptive marketing and downplaying the risks of addiction.
Johnson & Johnson argued that they marketed and promoted medicine responsibly and followed both federal law and regulations.
On Monday, Judge Thad Balkman ruled in favor of the state, saying that Johnson & Johnson’s actions compromised the health of thousands of Oklahomans.
According to the ruling, Balkman found that the “Defendants engaged in false and misleading marketing of both their drugs and opioids generally; and (b) this conduct constitutes a public nuisance under extant Oklahoma law.”
Following the ruling, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter made comments about the case.
Now, another company says Hunter wrongly attributed their tagline to Johnson & Johnson.
SC Johnson says Hunter used their tagline, “A Family Company” and attributed it to Johnson & Johnson. SC Johnson says it is a completely separate company that has no connection with Johnson & Johnson.
The company says it has sent a letter to Hunter, asking for a retraction.
“I am writing to demand that you retract your statements that have appeared in both national and local media citing the SC Johnson tagline, “A Family Company.” If you do not, we will have no choice but to bring suit.
This is a very difficult letter to write because the opioid crisis is such a terrible tragedy which has devastated many families. I can’t possibly imagine what it’s like for those families who have lost family members, and it is so important that this crisis be solved. While this issue on which I am writing pales in comparison, under the circumstance, I feel compelled to stand up for the 13,000 hardworking people of SC Johnson.
I have written to you on several occasions, “A Family Company” is the tagline of SC Johnson, not Johnson & Johnson. When you first used our tagline in May, and we reached out to your office, the Counsel for the State offered to make it clear on the record that SC Johnson is not associated with Johnson & Johnson in any manner.
We even contacted your office yesterday, as a further reminder to avoid using our tagline, which would cause people to believe SC Johnson is involved in this suit. Yet it was shocking and quite frankly outrageous, that you still went on national television, again propagating this misinformation. There was simply no reason for that.
You said yesterday that Johnson & Johnson’s actions were “inconsistent with all of the grand statements that they [Johnson & Johnson] make about being a family company…” However, we can find no occasions where Johnson & Johnson has ever referred to themselves as a family company. I can only conclude that these theatrics are in the service of personal political advantage,” the letter read.
News 4 reached out to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office and was sent the following statement:
“To be abundantly clear, we in no way meant for anyone to confused SC Johnson with Johnson & Johnson. It is regrettable if someone did. The reference to Johnson & Johnson as ‘a family company’ comes from the way it tries to appear to the public. Our trial, in part, was about unmasking this company for what it was found guilty of yesterday, being the kingpin behind the deadliest man made epidemic in our nation’s history,” said Alex Gerszewski, communications director with the office.
Several days later on Sept. 4, Attorney General Mike Hunter released another statement clarifying his position.
“We understand why no company, including S.C. Johnson, would ever want to be associated with Johnson & Johnson’s involvement in the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Mike Hunter. “Our references to Johnson & Johnson not being “a family company” were made in regards to its efforts to market itself as a family friendly company—including running commercials in Oklahoma throughout our trial posing itself as a company that provides products to your family from the moment a baby is born until the end of life. Of course, the thousands of Oklahomans who have died from what the court described as a “menace to Oklahoma” caused by Johnson & Johnson disagree.
“Going forward we will not refer to Johnson & Johnson as “a family company” because the Johnson & Johnson family of companies most certainly are no such thing.”