Opinion | The Poisonous, Morally Bankrupt Actions of the Painkiller Peddlers

By: | October 20, 2019

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

An Oklahoma judge’s damnation of Johnson & Johnson, as summarized in The Guardian, points to a vile campaign to sell more painkilling product at the expense of human life.

In his verdict awarding $572 million to the plaintiffs, Judge Thad Balkman denounced a marketing scheme on the part of the corporation that downplayed the risk of opioid addiction, ignored red flags that pointed to the existence of pill mills and already-addicted patients, and bribed physicians with gifts to keep them prescribing more and more painkillers.

No wonder that in September, as Risk & Insurance® attempted to gauge what impact the Johnson & Johnson verdict and others like it might have on insurance markets and the premiums of insureds in the pharma/life science space, major commercial insurance brokerages went silent.

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Of course, representatives for any type of stakeholder must watch their public statements when litigation of this magnitude looms.

But I must say, this issue is too large, the human cost too extensive, the culpability too obvious, for any of us to remain silent.

America, and by that I include corporate America, we need to talk, and we need to stop bending the truth when we do talk.

Proof of this kind of poisonous activity by any company must provoke us to ask why we have publicly traded companies operating in plain view with the morals of street-corner pushers.

Denying this issue by receiving it with silence is unacceptable.

It was the great Polish-American writer Isaac Bashevis Singer who wrote that “the wicked live by denial.”

Amen Isaac, we’ll stop there. &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]