My first job in Australia was Account Executive on the Johnson & Johnson Baby & You Club. Worked on loved and trusted brands such as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Johnson’s Baby Powder, and Johnson’s Baby Oil. The brand equity in the word “Johnson” was priceless.

Today Johnson & Johnson was fined AUS $844 million to clean up the opioid problem they created in Oklahoma. Oklahoma argued Johnson & Johnson created ‘a public nuisance’ by launching an aggressive and misleading marketing campaign that overstated how effective the drugs were for treating chronic pain and understated the risk of addiction.

In 2015 alone, more than 326 million opioid pills were dispensed to Oklahomans — 110 pills for each state resident, the lawsuit noted. The State was also had the most fentanyl prescriptions per capita.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which also results in overdose deaths.

No wonder Johnson & Johnson was described by the prosecutor as an opioid “kingpin”. Oklahoma will use the settlement money to fund addiction treatment programs – but only if Johnson & Johnson’s appeal is unsuccessful. Bloody hell!


Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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