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Johnson & Johnson Representative Grilled During Opioid Epidemic Trial In Oklahoma

Kyle Phillips / The Norman Transcript
Kimberly Deem-Eshleman, a Johnson and Johnson's corporate representative, testifies on May 30, 2019.

A corporate representative for Johnson & Johnson took the stand in Oklahoma Thursday, in a lawsuit over the company's alleged role in the opioid crisis.

The state accuses Johnson & Johnson sales representatives of deceptively promoting opioids to Oklahoma doctors, leading to the overprescription and addiction of thousands. The company's representatives made 140,000 sales calls on Oklahoma doctors over a period of years.

Brad Beckworth, a lawyer for the state, grilled Kimberly Deem-Eshleman, the opioid company's corporate representative about those calls.

Beckworth: “That market was one that you marketed to, correct?”

Deem-Eshleman: “We marketed in.”

Beckworth: “That you influenced.”

Deem-Eshleman: “We educated in.”

Beckworth: “That you influenced.”

Deem-Eshleman is describing the thousands of sales calls as an effort to educate doctors about new drugs and inform them about their risks and benefits.

“The intent of our sales representatives and the intent of all of the materials that we put forth in the marketplace is around education,” Deem-Eshleman testified.

Deem-Eshleman is expected to continue her testimony Friday.

The case could set the stage for about 2,000 other civil lawsuits by U.S. states, cities, and Native American tribes looking for a settlement with opioid manufacturers.

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