What We’ve Learned From Johnson and Johnson’s Opioid Trial So Far

In Oklahoma, a battle is being waged between state attorneys and the pharmaceutical giant.  State attorneys state in their lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson has played a large role in the opioid epidemic in the state, accusing sales representatives of deceptively promoting opioids to doctors.

Johnson & Johnson Trial Heats Up

The state says that  company representatives made 140,000 sales calls to Oklahoma doctors over a period of years, among other aggressive marketing tactics. This allegedly led to overprescription, addiction, and ultimately death for those unfortunate enough to overdose.

Brad Beckworth, a lawyer for the state, went to the stand last week to ask Kimberly Deem-Eshleman, the company’s corporate representative, about those calls and other tactics used by sales reps.

Last Week, Dr. Russell Portenoy, a leading pain expert testified that Johnson & Johnson understated the risk of abusing opioids or the risl of addiction. In a taped testimony, the doctor stated that Big Pharma “overstated the benefits of chronic-opioid therapy’’ and “understated the risk of abuse, addiction and overdose.”

Due to this deception, state attorneys say Johnson & Johnson caused a “public nuisance’’ that led, ultimately to a deadly opioid epidemic in Oklahoma and across the United States.

Increased Opioid Sales via ‘Cynical Brainwashing’

Johnson & Johnson is accused of operating “a cynical, deceitful multimillion-dollar brainwashing campaign” to drive up sales of its opioids Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, told the civil when it opened last month.  Through their deceptive marketing activities, the state claims the company of taking leading role in “the worst manmade health crisis in the history of the country and the state”.

The Oklahoma case against Johnson & Johnson is a strong one. In fact, there were once several other parties named in the lawsuit. They made the decision to settled out of court, paying over 100 million dollars as settlement of the case.

Johnson and Johnson is accused of pushing opioids on patients that didn’t necessarily merit the high strength. The company, motivated by “greed”, began pushing their fentanyl patch, Duragesic, routinely for chronic pain. They applied more aggressive marketing tactics as they watched their rival Purdue Pharma grow rich from OxyContin.

Later on, the company started growing its own opioid poppies overseas, and became a supplier to narcotic pharmaceutical manufacturers. They even supplied the ingredients to Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin.

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