August 6th, 2013

J&J painkiller probe expands scrutiny of industry marketing

By Deborah Weinstein
Medical Marketing and Media

Johnson & Johnson’s list of government marketing investigations just got longer. The company announced in its quarterly report that Atlanta’s Health and Human Services office has subpoenaed marketing and sales information for J&J opioid painkiller Nucynta IR and Nucynta ER that was issued by the healthcare giant’s Janssen subsidiary. J&J says the government’s interest includes “remuneration of healthcare providers” as well as safety issues or complaints the company received about the medication.

J&J noted in the quarterly report that the drug maker “has received numerous requests from a variety of United States Congressional Committees to produce information relevant to ongoing congressional inquiries,” and is sharing information. Wells Fargo estimates Nucynta had $197 million in sales last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The storyline, however, has two other threads. For J&J, this is yet another knock on its reputation, which includes a series of investigations regarding how it marketed its anti-psychotic Risperdal; personal injury claims against its Ethicon unit over its pelvic mesh devices; an investigation into now-subsidiary Synthes’ fellowship program that is looking into allegations that it traded fellowships for purchases; a slew of OTC drug recalls in its McNeil consumer division; and a recent OPDP letter that says Janssen’s WebMD ad minimized Xarelto risks.

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