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Oklahoma says Johnson & Johnson was an opioid “kingpin”

Oklahoma says Johnson & Johnson was an opioid “kingpin”
[Photo: Flickr user Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine]

As the country tries to crack down on the opioid epidemic, some states are taking the matter to court. Oklahoma, in fact, is taking Johnson & Johnson to court for its part in the crisis, according to a new Axios report.

While much of the headlines have focused on Purdue Pharma, the company behind OxyContin, J&J has allegedly played a significant role in getting the American public hooked on painkillers. In fact, the well-known company–which is behind such benign and wholesome products as baby powder–reportedly created many of the raw plant material that became active ingredients in the most popular opioids–including what Purdue Pharma made.

J&J even reportedly bragged about its ability to get people addicted to its products, the report says, citing investor slides. “The company boasted at the time that one of its opium poppies “enabled the growth of oxycodone,” and said the morphine content of a different poppy was “the highest in the world.” Johnson & Johnson also reportedly funded some pro-opioid advocacy groups, which made claims in advertising targeted at seniors that “opioids are rarely addictive.”

As part of its greater lawsuit into the opioid industry, the Oklahoma attorney general asked a court to release confidential documents J&J released during discovery. “The public, just like the Oklahoma Legislature, deserves to know the full extent of J&J’s efforts to influence policymakers at all levels of government in order to increase sales of their (and their coconspirators’) drugs,” the motion says.

Johnson & Johnson provided Axios with a lengthy statement, saying: “The allegations made against our company are baseless and unsubstantiated.” I reached out to J&J as well and will update if I hear back.

You can read the full Axios report here.

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