New York charges Johnson & Johnson over opioid marketing claims

| Sep 23, 2020 | Pharmaceutical Liability |

Did you or a loved one take an opioid prescription after being misled about the risks?

The state of New York accuses Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals of targeting the elderly for opioid prescriptions. This was allegedly done despite J&J’s knowing about potential side effects like falls, fractures and neurological issues.

The state’s Department of Financial Services just filed civil insurance fraud charges against J&J. The charges carry a penalty of up to $5,000 per violation.

New York is only one of several states and municipalities in the U.S. that have sued J&J over its opioid marketing. The New Jersey-based company has proposed a settlement fund of $4 billion to settle all such claims.

In a statement on the charges, J&J referred to its marketing of opioids as “appropriate and responsible.”

Last November, an Oklahoma court issued a $465 million judgment against J&J for misleading people about the risks of opioids. J&J has appealed that judgment.

‘Inexcusable’ misrepresentation

In addition to the claim that J&J targeted elderly patients for opioid prescriptions, New York claims that J&J used “key opinion leaders” and “seemingly independent” advocacy groups in its marketing materials to downplay the dangers of opioid addiction.

New York says that the company manufactured at least two opioid products in the state. They included the Duragesic fentanyl patch and Nucynta, another type of opioid patch. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued multiple letters to J&J challenging the marketing claims it made for Duragesic.

Finally, the state points to J&J’s “Norman Poppy,” a plant it developed in 1994. This once was the source of approximately 80% of the world’s raw materials for oxycodone, one of the most popular generic opioids. Oxycodone is also the main ingredient of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin.

“Misrepresentation of opioids to consumers for profit is inexcusable,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids contributed to over 400,000 deaths since 1997.

The state, not private individuals, bring these civil fraud charges. However, people can fight back against J&J and other pharmaceutical companies that underplayed the risks of addiction and other problems.