New York charges Johnson & Johnson with insurance fraud over opioid claims


Adds comment from New York governor, additional allegations

NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - New York state filed civil charges on Thursday accusing Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N of insurance fraud for downplaying the risks of opioid painkillers, including to doctors and elderly patients.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the charges by New York's Department of Financial Services in that regulator's opioid industry probe follow charges against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd TEVA.TA, Allergan Plc, Endo International Plc ENDP.O and Mallinckrodt Plc MNK.N.

Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals affiliate were accused of specifically targeting elderly patients for opioid treatment despite the risks, and in marketing materials characterizing opioid addiction as a myth.

"Misrepresentation of opioids to consumers for profit is inexcusable," Cuomo said in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

New York said Johnson & Johnson manufactured opioid products in the state such as the fentanyl patch Duragesic and drug Nucynta, and said its "Norman Poppy" was once responsible for as much as 80% of the global supply for oxycodone raw materials.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company was charged with violating two New York insurance laws, with civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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