Advertisement

Oklahoma medical examiner testifies in state opioid lawsuit

Oklahoma medical examiner testifies in state opioid lawsuit Photo: AP

June 19, 2019 12:51 PM

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma's chief medical examiner shared tragic details about the opioid-related deaths of about three dozen residents during testimony in the state's lawsuit alleging drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries contributed to the epidemic.

Dr. Eric Pfeifer testified Tuesday that the tragic narratives represent only a small portion of the autopsies his office has performed in recent years as overdose deaths skyrocketed. Attorney General Mike Hunter, who filed the case in 2017, has said curbing and ending the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma could cost billions of dollars.

Advertisement

Pfeifer said opioid overdose can traumatize a person's body in multiple ways.

"There's a triad of things including cerebral edema, which means a swollen brain, pulmonary edema, which means water in the lungs, and a distended bladder full of urine," he said. "That's pretty typical of opioid deaths."

Pfeifer read from a narrative prepared by his office involving a 28-year-old mother with a history of back pain who had just been placed on fentanyl patches and was found dead on her daughter's birthday.

Pfeifer also read accounts of the deaths of a 53-year-old woman found sitting up at her dining room table and a 55-year-old woman found by her husband in a bathtub overflowing with water.

The lawsuit alleges drugmakers marketed highly addictive opioids in a way that overstated their effectiveness and underplayed the risk of addiction. Johnson & Johnson has denied wrongdoing.

Oklahoma is one of about three dozen states that have filed lawsuits in state courts aiming to have local juries or judges decide the outcome. Oklahoma's is the first to go to trial.

Two companies, OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals , settled with Oklahoma ahead of the trial.

Connect with KSTP


Join the conversation on our social media platforms. Share your comments on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

Credits

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Advertisement

Tornado warnings issued for Kanabec, Morrison counties

Police: Man dies after being struck by vehicle in Apple Valley

DOC deputy commissioner resigns

Semi driver involved in fatal Lake Elmo crash sentenced to 1 year in jail

Iran says it seized British oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

Neutrogena recalls light therapy masks for risk of eye damage

Advertisement