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New York files civil insurance fraud charges against Johnson & Johnson in opioid case

J&J faces civil charges in N.Y. opioids case

New York state filed civil charges Thursday accusing Johnson & Johnson of insurance fraud for downplaying the risks of opioid painkillers, including to doctors and elderly patients.

J&J and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals affiliate were accused of targeting elderly patients for opioid treatment despite the risks of side effects such as falls, fractures and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

The company was also accused of employing marketing materials, “seemingly independent” advocacy groups and “key opinion leaders” to dismiss opioid addiction as a myth.

In a statement, J&J called its marketing and promotion of opioids “appropriate and responsible. Janssen provided these medicines for doctors treating patients suffering from pain and worked with regulators to provide appropriate information about their risks and benefits.”

The charges by New York’s Department of Financial Services are the fourth in its opioid industry probe, following charges against Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Endo International and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

J&J, based in New Brunswick, N.J., has proposed paying $4 billion to settle opioid claims by U.S. states, cities and counties.

It is separately appealing a $465 million judgment in Oklahoma from last November over its opioid marketing there.

New York said J&J manufactured opioid products in the state, including Nucynta and the fentanyl patch Duragesic, and received multiple U.S. Food and Drug Administration letters challenging its Duragesic marketing claims.

— Reuters

Facebook targets health misinformation

Facebook will no longer show health groups in its recommendations, the social media giant said on Thursday, in a bid to protect its users from getting false health-related information circulating in such groups.

Over the last year, the company took down more than 1 million groups that violated Facebook’s policies on misinformation and harmful content, it said in a blog post.

Misleading health content has racked up an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook over the past year, peaking during the coronavirus pandemic, advocacy group Avaaz said in a report last month.

Facebook, under pressure to curb misinformation on its platform, has made amplifying credible health information a key element of its response. It has also started removing misinformation about the pandemic, which it said could cause imminent harm.

— Reuters

Ford, facing an onslaught of competition for its new battery-powered F-150 pickup, unveiled the high-tech factory that will produce the electric truck using self-driving transport sleds and robots collaborating with human workers. The plant is going up inside Ford's 92-year-old Rouge complex in Dearborn, Mich. The autonomous sleds will transport truck bodies from one station to the next, while robots help assemble the vehicles.

CVS Health said on Thursday that it plans to add more than 2,000 drive-through coronavirus test sites at select CVS pharmacies across the United States. CVS Health expects to have more than 4,000 test sites operating by mid-October in the country, the company said. The drugstore chain said the new locations will open in waves over the next several weeks in 33 states and Washington, D.C.

Dubai and Tel Aviv, two of the world's biggest diamond-trading hubs, agreed to share expertise, open reciprocal offices and promote regional trade in the precious stones. The United Arab Emirates' Dubai Diamond Exchange will cooperate with the Israel Diamond Exchange in Tel Aviv, said the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, the city government's commodities authority. The deal follows an agreement between the UAE and Israel to work toward establishing normal relations.

U.S. housing construction fell a surprising 5.1 percent in August after three months of strong gains when home builders ramped up projects following a pandemic-induced shutdown in March and April. New homes were started at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.42 million last month after a 17.9 percent surge in July, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

— From news services