Trial date set for Oklahoma’s opioid case against pharmaceutical companies

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A trial date is now set in connection with the state's lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.

Oklahoma is the first state in the nation to have their lawsuit against drug manufacturers move forward.

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, almost 3,000 Oklahomans have died from overdosing on opioids in the last three years.

“Drugs destroyed my life in so many different facets, from my family life to my spiritual life,” Cam Cox said.

Cox understands the battle of addiction. He struggled for years with a meth addiction that actually landed him behind bars.

“I did about 11 years in federal prison, not for drug related crimes directly, but they were related to drugs,” he said.

Cox has now turned his life around, and he’s helping others with addictions through Kehlam Sober Living, a halfway house he runs.
Now, he is glad to see the state helping as well.

“I have noticed that getting people away from opioids is a much more complex adventure than other drugs,” said Cox.

In June 2017, the state decided to take many drug companies to court.

“They misrepresented the addictive qualities of the drugs. There's been damaged to the state, that's the essence of the trial,” said Attorney General Mike Hunter.

The two sides met back in court Thursday morning in Cleveland County to set a trial date.

The state pushed for the trial to begin in May of 2019 and the judge granted that request. However, lawyers with the pharmaceutical companies argued that isn't enough time for them to prepare.

“We think we've done everything we needed to do to provide them a template of what the state damages are,” Hunter said.

Hunter said that the state won't settle in the case. Instead, he wants a jury to make a decision and wants the drug companies to pay up.

“My hope would be that you have something similar to the tobacco settlement, where the money is placed in trust and the income goes to treatment programs and rehabilitation,” Hunter said.

As for those who kicked their dangerous habits, they see this as a step in the right direction.

“Opioids have completely taken over the lives of so many Oklahomans, and I don`t think it's inappropriate at all for those charged with protecting us to take actions to correct what has gone wrong,” Cox said.

Lawyers with the pharmaceutical companies chose not to comment on the matter. Both sides have until Jan. 22 to present the judge with a special master to help oversee mediation.

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