Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office filed a civil Medicaid fraud lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., for misrepresentations made to the Texas Medicaid program about their dangerous opioid drug, Duragesic.
The State alleges the companies directed their sales representatives to deliver false and misleading messages about their fentanyl opioid drug to doctors in Texas, including Medicaid doctors. Sales representatives told doctors Duragesic had fewer side effects, worked better, and posed less risk of addiction than other opioids, despite multiple FDA reprimands that those claims were false and misleading. As a result of these misrepresentations, Johnson & Johnson obtained the benefit of taxpayer-funded Texas Medicaid reimbursement for Duragesic while fueling our nation’s opioid epidemic.
“Every day, Texans are coping with the unimaginable consequences of opioid addiction. Like other opioid manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson misled the State of Texas and the entire medical profession about the danger of these drugs in order to turn the greatest profit,” Attorney General Paxton said. “In this case, Johnson & Johnson not only defrauded Texas taxpayers and diverted precious healthcare dollars from Texans in need, they contributed to the opioid crisis that has destroyed the lives of an untold number of Texas families.”
Opioids are a family of drugs including prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin. Nationwide and in Texas, prescription and illegal opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, including 1,174 in Texas. Opioid overdoses in the U.S. have quadrupled since 1999.
You can find more information on opioids on the Texas Attorney General’s webpage here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/opioid-crisis.
To view a copy of the petition, click here.