Things aren’t getting better when it comes to the opioid epidemic, at least, not legally for companies like Johnson and Johnson. Legal teams and states are still trying to figure out how to hold the distributors of these pain medications accountable. The opioid lawsuit is taking place to hold these drug makers responsible for their part in the worst drug addiction issue in the history of the United States.
And while they haven’t reached a verdict yet, the courts are trying. Particularly in the cases of Johnson & Johnson big pharma companies such as Janssen. The current Opioid lawsuit in Oklahoma holds them accountable for creating a “public nuisance” in the form of a new drug issue and not caring about the faces of an epidemic, along with other charges within the case.
J&J isn’t the first company to come under heat from the courts regarding their manufacturing and sales of opioid pain management medicines. Two other major opioid manufacturers settled last year to avoid further legal consequences.
Johnson and Johnson Case Evidence
In the 1990s, J&J started investing in poppy fields in Tasmania. This began the drug-makers creation of their own “super” crop of opium. The opium poppy strain produced and cultivate is called the Norman poppy. It doesn’t have morphine in it, which is the main ingredient in heroin, but it does have thebaine, which is the base for almost every opioid painkiller.
Now it would be one thing if J&J were only growing what they needed to make their own supply, through their pharmaceutical branch, Janssen. But that’s not what they did. Instead, they grew enough poppies to dominate the market, so that major drug manufacturers had to purchase Johnson and Johnson poppies to make their own painkillers – hence the opioid lawsuit going on now.
It wasn’t a full poppy-market monopoly since the brands had the choice to buy non-Norman poppies, but then they’d have to filter out the morphine themselves. From a sales perspective, it was genius. They were major opioid manufacturers and were selling to some of the other largest opioid manufacturers as well. But from a humanitarian perspective, it was evil.
The Norman poppies were a large source of thebaine for Purdue Pharmaceutical, who put the strongest opioid out on the market (at that time), Oxycontin in 1996. Experts hold Oxycontin responsible for the first surge of opioid addiction issues in the ’90s, but is that really where the crisis started?
J&J’s Opioid Duragesic
Using opium for pain management is not a new practice. There’s evidence of it going back hundreds of years, especially in Asia and other eastern places. But, Johnson and Johnson were one of the first companies to create it in medical-grade form via a patch they called Duragesic.
At first, they only gave that patch to cancer patients, who truly needed a large dose of pain medication. They were trying to provide comfort to terminal patients, safely, like insys drugs does now. And their sales stayed rather low until they realized the profit they could make off of other people’s pain.
After Purdue had such a successful launch with their new pill Oxycontin, J&J saw the opportunity to ramp up sales for Duragesic and develop other opiate products. Official case evidence shows Janssen (the pharmaceutical branch of J&J) ordering their sales representatives to “convince them that Duragesic is effective and safe to use’ for chronic pain conditions”.
That was in the early 2000s and when they started convincing doctors that their drug was made for regular use their sales skyrocketed. They were able to make billions of dollars a year, for at least the last 19 years. But that wasn’t enough when it came to profits.
Targeting the Most Vulnerable
In 2002, J&J started working with a company that would help them find doctors who hadn’t yet started prescribing Duragesic or who could be convinced to switch from Oxycontin to the J&J brand.
The two companies came to the conclusion that they should “Target high abuse-risk patients” according to an announcement from McKinsey to Johnson and Johnson. Those patients are mostly men under 40. In this opioid lawsuit, their legal counsel now denies that they targeted any form of abuse, stating that they tried to “educate” doctors the best they could. The evidence from Johnson & Johnson’s big pharma company speaks for itself though.
Since the medical community is highly evidence-based, you’d think someone would have caught on to how addictive and strong these new painkillers were. Some studies came out showing that continued use is harmful and there’s a high possibility of addiction. But J&J didn’t want to hear that. The Oklahoma court and it’s witnesses accuse the company of paying off doctors, altering research results, and purposely misleading people about the drug’s addictive effect.
While J&J’s well-paid legal team is putting up a good fight in their Pharma lawsuits, they’re running out of excuses. Johnson and Johnson’s greed and the greed of companies who make similar products are partly responsible for the 130 opioid overdoses seen every day in the United States.
Hold Drug Companies Accountable
Once this evidence got out, the Federal and State governments saw how terrible the opioid crisis is, things kicked into gear. Oklahoma’s Johnson and Johnson opioid lawsuit 2019 is the highest court holding them accountable right now, but there are other private and city lawsuits against the company.
If you’d like to do your part, you can avoid buying Johnson and Johnson products when you’re at the store, always listen to the warnings from your doctor when they prescribe medication, and keep an eye on vulnerable friends and family members. If you or someone you love is living with an opioid addiction, please reach out. Help is available and you no longer have to suffer alone or in silence – (866) 578-7471.