Historic opioid trial targeting drugmakers, distributors gets underway at Touro College
A historic drug trial targeting manufacturers and distributors got underway at Touro College Tuesday.
The drug manufacturers and distributors are being sued by New York state along with Nassau and Suffolk counties. They are accused of causing the deadly opioid epidemic that has wreaked havoc on many communities. Some of the drugs include Oxycontin, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl.
The prosecutor for Nassau says, "The opioid epidemic didn't happen by accident. It was a calculated decision made in boardrooms across the country."
Families who have lost a loved one to a drug overdose are watching this trial and these drug companies closely.
Linda Ventura lost her son, Thomas, at just 21 years of age from a heroin overdose. Ventura says her son was addicted to pills long before his overdose.
"They sold and marketed addictive and dangerous drugs as a cure-all for everything," says Ventura. "So, they need to be held accountable. It trumps anything else. They knew it, they went ahead with it and continued to go ahead with it."
Inside the courtroom, prosecutors accused the drug companies of causing death and destruction in exchange for blockbuster sales.
"These individuals need to be held accountable," says New York Attorney General Letitia James. "These manufacturers and distributors who were really only concerned about one thing and that is their bottom line."
There have been similar cases in California and in West Virginia, but what's different is there's a jury at this trial.
Over the weekend, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a $230 million settlement, which removes it from the trial even though the company did not admit liability or wrongdoing.
Opening statements are expected to take two to three days. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.