Pharmaceutical Marketing Disaster: Johnson & Johnson Fined $572 Million
On the 26th August 2019, an Oklahoma judge ordered Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay over $572 million for pushing doctors to prescribe opioids while downplaying the risk of addiction. These actions, according to prosecutors, fuelled the opioid crisis and led to more than 6,000 deaths.
In judge Balkman’s full written decision, he stated that the companies sales program was designed to target doctors at multiple times throughout their career. Johnson & Johnson pushed their educational program through sales representatives, funded research articles and paid speakers. These programs did not properly address the risk of addiction, and provided no training to sales representatives on the history of opioid use or associated addiction.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter claimed that Johnson & Johnson, along with other pharmaceutical companies, rushed to produce a “magic pill” in the pursuit of profits, whilst ignoring well established research on the dangers of opioids. Hunter went on to say Johnson and Johnson “built its billion-dollar brand out of greed and on the backs of pain and suffering of innocent people”.
This verdict brings dismay to a raft of other opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains who are currently facing 2,000 other lawsuits across the country. Their previous attempt to pin blame on the prescribing doctors for the epidemic has now been dismantled.
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