“I believe Johnson & Johnson was a major cause of our opioid crisis” – Dr. Kolodny
NORMAN – The following is a readout of Dr. Andrew Kolodny’s closing remarks after direct examination during the state’s trial against the nation’s largest drug manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, for the company’s role in fueling the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic.
Dr. Kolodny is the one of the state’s key expert witnesses during the trial. He is the co-director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. His primary area of focus is the prescription opioid and heroin crisis that has devastated families and communities across the country. He is also the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, an organization with a mission to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by overprescribing of opioid analgesics.
Dr. Kolodny is regarded as the nation’s foremost expert on the opioid epidemic in the United States.
“I believe Johnson & Johnson was a major cause of our opioid crisis.
“It was Johnson & Johnson’s opium that flooded into the United States. I think it’s fair to characterize Johnson & Johnson as a Kingpin in our opioid crisis because it was their opium that they were selling and that other drug dealers or pharmaceutical companies were selling.
“Johnson & Johnson was aware of the 2003 GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office) report that faulted Purdue Pharma for promoting OxyContin aggressively and (the report) mentioned in particular the unbranded campaign to increase opioid prescribing as a class of drug outlined in that GAO report. Despite reading that report, reading that the federal government was criticizing Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson continued to sell opium and Oxycodone to Purdue Pharma. Johnson & Johnson (also) did exactly what was described in that report: promoted an unbranded campaign to increase opioid prescribing.
“In 2007, when Purdue Pharma was convicted criminally of claiming that OxyContin was less addictive because of its extended release formulation, Johnson & Johnson continued to sell opium and oxycodone to Purdue Pharma and continued to do exactly what Purdue Pharma was convicted criminally of doing.
“They promoted their products as having lower abuse potential. We’ve seen Johnson & Johnson promote opioids in this unbranded campaign, (by) funding front groups, patient groups, meant to look like grassroots organizations that promoted opioids (and) funding professional groups that were promoting opioids.
“We know that Johnson & Johnson participated in the pain care forum, or group that I have referred to as the opioid mafia, a working group to protect their stake in their opium supply into the United States.
“We know that Johnson & Johnson didn’t simply fund an unbranded campaign but they directly promoted their own opioids in ways that were improper. We know that their sales representatives downplayed the addictive potential of Duragesic.
“We know that they promoted their products aggressively at a time when it was very clear that the United States was suffering of opioid addiction because of over prescribing. We know that their sales representatives encouraged doctors to prescribe their opioids for conditions where we shouldn’t use them and prescribe their opioids longer than patients should be on them. We know that they even gave out coupons so patients could be started on their opioids for free.
“Opioids should be prescribed at the lowest dose for the shortest duration possible. They wanted patients on opioids at a high dose for as long as possible.
“So they (Johnson & Johnson) are, without any question in my mind, a major cause of our opioid crisis and I believe it’s fair to characterize them as the Kingpin in our opioid crisis.” – Dr. Andrew Kolodny
Watch his remarks in full beginning at the 2:06:26 mark, here: https://bit.ly/2WIMx62.
Additional highlights from Dr. Kolodny’s two days on the stand as the state’s expert witness include the following:
- Johnson & Johnson took data out of context with respect to their specific opioids;
- Minimized safety issues related to their specific opioids;
- Omitted material information related to the safety or efficacy of their specific opioids;
- Made comparative efficacy claims about their opioids without substantial evidence;
- Made overstatements as to the efficacy or safety of their opioids specifically; and
- Affected the entire community or considerable number of Oklahomans throughout the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The state’s trial against Johnson & Johnson for fueling the state’s opioid crisis will continue tomorrow in Cleveland County at 8:30 a.m.