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Johnson & Johnson Opioid Crisis

This week was a breakthrough for holding accountable the pharmaceutical industry for fueling the opioid crisis, which is responsible for approximately 400,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. In a landmark ruling, a judge in Oklahoma fined Johnson & Johnson $572 million for deceptive and aggressive marketing practices of opioid drugs that contributed to 6,000 deaths in that state. State prosecutors were successful by charging the drug company under laws relating to “public nuisances.” To remedy and remove the nuisance, the fine will go toward treatment, education and prevention programs related to opioid drugs. This resonates powerfully with me because, for years, I’ve observed how the drug industry abused the opioid crisis as a lobbying and public relations tool against prescription drug importation and to crack down against safe international online pharmacies, and even against PharmacyChecker. It has done so through its own trade associations and companies and by funding organizations to do their bidding.

Groups such as the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), and the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) have spent considerable money publicizing the dangers of opioids accessed on the Internet and imports of fentanyl coming in through the mail. Meanwhile it was the drug industry itself that was fueling the opioid epidemic. It deflected attention away from its own malevolence while providing a story to justify cracking down on personal drug importation, thus protecting its profits from lower priced drug imports. What a diabolical tactic:

Johnson & Johnson was listed as a member of ASOP; that is, until recently.

Johnson & Johnson was a sponsor of PSM’s Interchange Conference.

Johnson & Johnson was a sponsor of the NABP’s annual conference.

If the links below showing the affiliations mentioned above don’t work, that’s because they have been removed by the mentioned groups.

Drug dealers, rogue online pharmacies that sell prescription narcotics to people with substance abuse problems do operate on the Internet and cracking down on them is obviously good. But the government’s own data shows that the Internet is responsible for 0.1% of prescription narcotics used for non-medicinal purposes. The problem is offline for the most part and shouldn’t be used as a pretext to disparage prescription drug importation programs and the use of online pharmacies by Americans to buy less expensive medications outside the U.S. But that’s what’s happening.

Drug companies using the opioid crisis to aggravate the crisis of high drug prices. Shocking.  

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