J & J pushed back hard, arguing that the state itself looked the other way as its own drug review board and prescription monitoring program for years neglected to swoop down on sources of diverted opioids. In addition, it said, Oklahoma could not tie any death directly to the company’s products — Duragesic, a fentanyl patch, and Nucynta, an opioid pill it no longer makes.
.. “You hear about pill mills,” said Larry D. Ottaway, the lead counsel for a J & J subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. “You don’t hear about patch mills.”
Indeed both sides introduced what are sure to be their signature earworms, themes that will be echoed throughout the trial, estimated to take about two months.
“If you oversupply, people will die,” said Brad Beckworth, who represents the Oklahoma attorney general’s office. He repeated the phrase to drive home the state’s argument that J & J sent squads of salespeople to persuade physicians of the broad utility of its fentanyl patch, indicated specifically for cancer breakthrough pain.
In doing so, said Mr. Beckworth, J & J convinced doctors to “start with and stay with” medications intended only as a last resort.