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New Jersey suing opioid manufacturer for workers’ comp costs

The opioid epidemic is a serious national crisis affecting millions of Americans each day. New Jersey has already lost over 2,600 residents to opioid overdoses this year. The Attorney General in New Jersey is now fighting back.

The New Jersey Attorney General filed a lawsuit last week against a Johnson and Johnson subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. The lawsuit claims Janssen engaged in deceptive and misleading advertising of two of its opioid products: Nucynta and Nucynta ER.

The complaint states that the company a public health crisis unlike any other.” Between 2010 and 2017, the State of New Jersey spent $12.5 million on over 40,000 Nucynta and Nucynta ER claims submitted to employee health insurance plans.

One opioid user received a 2,700-day supply of opioid prescriptions from a physician who was closely associated with Janssen sales representatives. This single person cost the state over $48,000.

The Attorney General believes the public has a right to know about Janssen’s direct efforts to deceive customers. The complaint argues the company’s advertisement campaign deceived the public in two main ways:

  1. Minimizing risks of opioid addiction.
  2. Differentiating products as safer and less addictive than competitor’s opioid products.

The state also argues Janssen deceived the public about the consequences of long-term opioid use. In a marketing brochure targeted for older adults, the company stated that certain opioids are not addictive if taken properly. Janssen also falsely promoted the false theory of “pseudoaddiction.” This theory incorrectly claims that opioid abuse results from improper treatment for pain.

The state seeks a judgement requiring Janssen to pay damages for workers’ compensation costs and civil penalties. The complaint also asks that the company stop all unlawful marketing practices under the Consumer Fraud Act.

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