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Point of View: Reason to applaud Oklahoma AG

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Mike Hunter
Mike Hunter

I was disappointed to read "State's lawyers and the public interest" (Point of View, May 19) attacking the state of Oklahoma’s opioid case. My advice to any Oklahomans who read it: Consider the source.

I am pro-business. I am pro-Oklahoma. The author of Sunday’s editorial is not. He is president of the American Tort Reform Association, which is Big Pharma’s lap dog. ATRA’s sole purpose is to make it harder for people to hold bad companies responsible for the wrongs they commit.

ATRA works alongside the same opioid manufacturers that are on trial in Oklahoma. It even works on behalf of Purdue Pharma. In fact, the week after Oklahomans elected Mike Hunter, Johnson & Johnson’s own lawyers posted an article painting state attorneys general as business’ “most feared regulator.” This is no coincidence. When companies like these want to attack their opponents through the media, they are the ventriloquist and ATRA is their dummy.

Now, consider what’s actually going on in Oklahoma.

Hunter has made all the right decisions. He and his legal team have won in Norman. They won in federal court. They won at the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Hunter already won a $270 million settlement with Purdue. That’s the biggest opioid win any state can boast. It's 14 times more than what the group of 26 states got — combined — following Purdue’s federal conviction in 2007. If Tiger Joyce, the head of the ATRA, knew anything about Oklahoma, he’d know that Mike Burrage and Reggie Whitten are in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame; Glenn Coffee was president pro tem of the Senate, Brad Beckworth is a longtime Oklahoma lawyer who has had some of the largest victories in Oklahoma history; and his firm, Nix Patterson, has an impressive record in big cases like this, recovering $17.3 billion for Texas and more than $2 billion for Florida.

But Hunter is not done; he and his team are set to go to trial against the remaining drug companies in their case (Johnson & Johnson and Teva) on May 28. That’s next week. Meanwhile, other states are still stuck gathering evidence in a massive, consolidated mess in Ohio.

Take it from someone who lives outside the Beltway and inside the Sooner State: Oklahomans have every reason to be proud of our attorney general. He has shown guts, ingenuity, wisdom and compassion. He has upheld his oath and his duty to enforce the law and bring an end to this threat to public health and safety. He has united parties from both sides of the aisle, from all corners of the state, and from all communities. He has made the right calls to this point — including in selecting his team. Oklahomans should be confident that he will continue doing so.

Howard is an Oklahoma City businessman.

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