Doctor says drug company marketing messages acted like a virus
NORMAN — Pharmaceutical companies have spread their influence like a "virus," infiltrating sources of educational information that doctors rely on and encouraging them to prescribe more opioids, a Kentucky pain management specialist testified Thursday.
"Their marketing is like the roar of a lion, while their warnings and concerns are like the squeak of a mouse," Dr. Danesh Mazloomdoost testified.
"Nobody in this industry was innocent," he said.
Mazloomdoost's testimony came on Day 8 of a nonjury trial in which Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has accused Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries of creating a public nuisance. Hunter claims the companies helped cause an opioid epidemic in Oklahoma through false or misleading marketing.
Mazloomdoost said he believes opioids are greatly overprescribed in this country and he thinks many doctors and patients don't have a good understanding of how opioids act within the human body.
While opioids offer immediate pain relief, they also make the body more sensitive to pain, he said. Consequently, when the drugs wear off, the amount of pain felt will actually increase, prompting patients to need stronger and stronger doses for the same amount of relief.
Mazloomdoost spoke against using opioids to treat sprains and strains, a practice that had been advocated by Johnson & Johnson sales representatives.
Thursday afternoon, a Johnson & Johnson attorney questioned Mazloomdoost about an article he co-authored early on in his medical career that advocated for early, aggressive treatment of pain.
- Related to this story
- Article: Pastor puts human face on Oklahoma's opioid epidemic
- Video: Oklahoma Opioid Trial: Day 8 - Mazloomdoost testimony continues
That article indicated long-acting or sustained-release opioids are often a better treatment choice than the short-acting type.
Mazloomdoost confirmed co-writing the article, but said he no longer believes the statement to be true.
He cited the article as an example of how much he was being influenced by pharmaceutical companies at the time.
"I think it's important for those of us who have made mistakes to atone to them," he testified.
The Cleveland County District Court trial before Judge Thad Balkman is scheduled to resume 9 a.m. Friday. Watch the trial live at Oklahoman.com.