A Johnson & Johnson representative testified Wednesday that the drugmaker promoted its opioids heavily in California, not only to doctors but directly to insurers and payors who held the keys to place opioids on all-important lists of covered drugs called formularies.
Janssen and J&J corporate rep Kimberly Deem-Eshleman, a regional business director, appeared via video deposition to testify about the companies’ marketing of the opioids Duragesic and Nucynta ER in California.
California’s Los Angeles, Orange, and Santa Clara counties and the city of Oakland started the trial last week, seeking tens of billions of dollars from a quartet of drugmakers for allegedly fueling a public nuisance that has strained public health.
Deem-Eshleman testified that she was part of the marketing team working on Nucynta ER when it was still in clinical trials, in 2008, before it was clear how the drug would be packaged to potential buyers.
Ads were placed for the drugs as well, including possibly in journals “specifically for the payor community,” Deem-Eshleman testified. Regional business directors like her had the latitude to train sales reps specifically on talking to big care organizations in their areas, such as, in California, the state’s insurance option, or providers who are big there, like Humana, United, or CVS Caremark.
Whenever a payor wanted information on a given product, “our account director, along with our health economics and outcomes research team, would go in and present the clinical data on that medication,” Deem-Eshleman said.
Promotion also went towards others in the health system like pharmacy directors..
In addition to that, prominent doctors brought under the company’s wing as “key opinion leaders” or “thought leaders” were “trained on our promotional speaker deck” to go out and evangelize for the drugs. Discount cards or coupons were provided for patient use, and sometimes sample packs to get them started. There was a specialty sales force specifically for hospitals.
Asked if sales reps’ efforts increased prescriptions, Deem-Eshleman said there was no state-level data on that.