Statistician testifies Johnson & Johnson's branded products had small share of Oklahoma's opioid market
NORMAN — Johnson & Johnson's branded opioid products appeared to make up only a small fraction of Oklahoma's opioid market, a professor of applied mathematics and statistics testified Thursday.
Testifying for the defense, M. Laurentius Marais, who received his PhD from Stanford, told a Cleveland County District Court judge that he conducted detailed analyses of several large computer databases and found that prescriptions for Johnson & Johnson's Duragesic fentanyl patches and Nucynta opioid tablets made up only 0.82 percent of the prescriptions filled through the state's SoonerCare Medicaid program from 1996-2017, 0.20 percent of the prescriptions filled by Blue Cross/Blue Shield from 2008 through 2017, and 0.36 percent of the prescriptions filled by the HealthChoice program for state employees from 2004 to 2018.
Inclusion of the Johnson and Johnson's Ultram, Ultram ER and Ultracet products would raise those numbers by 2.04 percent, 0.43 percent and 0.42 percent, respectively, he said.
An attorney for the state questioned whether any of that was relevant, pointing out that a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary manufactured the active ingredient for a lot of opioids sold by other drug manufacturers whose products dominated the Oklahoma market.
"Garbage in, garbage out," is the way state's attorney Brad Beckworth described the information presented.
The testimony came in a trial where the state has accused Johnson & Johnson of helping cause the state's opioid crisis through false and deceptive marketing efforts that understated the risks of the painkillers while overstating their benefits. The state is asking Judge Thad Balkman to order Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries to pay more than $17.5 billion to abate the problem.
Testimony was continuing Thursday afternoon.