Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is facing insurance fraud charges over opioid marketing and downplaying its addiction risks to doctors and elderly patients. The charges were filed by New York’s Department of Financial Services on Thursday, as per the state's Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo, in his statement, indicated that the crisis had affected many lives, and the state will continue to fight against those who helped fuel this public health catastrophe and will utilize every means to ensure they are held fully responsible.
The department alleged that J&J and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals played a major in the opioid crisis by targeting elderly patients, employing marketing materials, and involving “seemingly independent” advocacy groups and “key opinion leaders” to dismiss opioid addiction cases.
The charges state that a 3,000% rise was seen nationally and almost 500% rise in the state of New York in private insurance claims related to opioid dependence diagnosis between 2007 and 2014. New Yorkers who have commercial health insurance had to overpay about $1.8 billion in premiums in the past decade due to the opioid crisis, as per the statement by the department.
Janssen, in response to the charges, argued that several studies, including one from Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), indicate that its Duragesic patch is less potential for addiction, and its label warned that high fentanyl content might make the patches "a particular target for abuse and diversion."
The department stated that the studies are flawed, and internal emails reveal that the manufacturer knew such studies were not effective measures of the drug's safety or efficacy. A hearing has been scheduled for January 25 to discuss the matter, the department said.