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Artist/Activist Domenic Esposito Places 800 lb Opioid Spoon Sculpture at Johnson & Johnson Headquarters to Shine a Light on Sinister Opioid Production and Distribution Practices

BOSTON and NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Sept. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Domenic Esposito, Boston-based artist/activist created a signature 800 lb spoon sculpture depicting a burnt opioid spoon and displayed it at the doorsteps of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) New Brunswick New Jersey headquarters today to protest the company's role in contributing to the nation's opioid crisis and to further highlight their deceptive practices to the public.

With the recent verdict against Johnson & Johnson, whereby Judge Thad Balkman ordered the company to pay Oklahoma $572 Million, ruling that J& J is responsible for fueling Oklahoma's opioid crisis, this art-activism was designed to inform the public that J&J has played a much larger role in the nation's on-going opioid epidemic. Judge Balkman's financial ruling determined roughly what it will cost the state to run an opioid addiction abatement program for only a single year. The verdict also found J&J guilty of creating a public nuisance, a finding that has much deeper ramification for a company that would have us believe they are only a minor player in production and distribution of opioids. 

Johnson & Johnson is the world's largest independent biotech company by market cap ($346.1 B), who owns numerous brands including Aveeno, Johnsons Baby and Tylenol, all household names the public has learned to trust because of their "Family" image marketing. While the monetary fine and J&J being found guilty for their role in the opioid epidemic in OK, there were certain "takeaways" worth highlighting as they show, not only the utter deception, but the much larger role J&J played in the opioid influx into the US. The following findings from OK AG, Mike Hunter and his team bear repeating:

  • Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol with Codeine, made the decision in the 1980's to begin their own Poppy field production to supply the opium derived from the poppy plant to utilize in their Tylenol products. J&J  purchased a business in Tasmania, a small island off the coast of Australia, who cultivated and processed poppies that produced the opium J&J needed. It is no coincidence that in 2015, the nations' opioid epidemic was in full swing and J&J was the main supplier of the raw, poppy produced opioid ingredient in painkillers. J&J went as far as developing a special strain of poppy, giving it the name "Norman." The Norman poppy offered a core pain-blocking derivative found in Oxycontin, that as we have now learned became Purdue's moneymaking drug, one that to many, symbolizes the opioid epidemic.
  • Johnson & Johnson owns Janssen Pharmaceutica, a pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Beerse, Belgium and Titusville, New Jersey, and owned Noramco. Both subsidiaries of J&J were essential, as they would manufacture and supply their poppy-derived materials to their own companies as well as other pharmaceutical companies including Purdue. OK AG, Mike Hunter told Bloomberg Law: "You have to connect all the different activities of Johnson & Johnson and Janssen. When you connect the decision that was made to be the principal source of the active ingredients in opioids for the rest of the country, these companies weren't competitors—they were collaborators."
  • J&J also funded numerous lobbying, advocacy and independent medical groups to influence U.S. policy as well as prescription habits of doctors. They disseminated deceptive information to the public claiming opioids were less addictive and more effective than other alternatives. They funded the adoption of new pain guidelines and manipulated the studies these guidelines are based upon.
  • The Oklahoma ruling also alleges that J&J worked with other drug makers behind the scenes to fund ostensibly independent medical groups that pressured doctors to prescribe opioids, saying they were less addictive and more effective than alternatives.

Esposito's agenda is clear: "J&J has projected an image as a family company that wants "No more tears" for your children. A company with a corporate credo that boasts "prioritizing customers over stockholders" has done the complete opposite in my opinion. Their credo isn't worth the paper it's written on, or the stone it's carved in. It is my hope that J&J becomes the first to step up to the plate and offer restitution to the opioid stricken communities, viable solutions to restore the lives of those who have been affected by the opioid crisis, admission of guilt and the end of their dangerous, addictive opioid production and distribution," states Esposito.

Esposito, founder of The Opioid Spoon Project, a 501 (C)(3)non-profit that focuses on garnering awareness surrounding those that have helped create, profit from and continue to fuel the opioid crisis and seeks culpability, victim restitutions and pro-active solutions to end one of the nation's biggest epidemics to date.

Domenic has gained national attention as an advocate for the opioid stricken communities via his signature massive 800 lb opioid spoon sculptures he places at the doorsteps of those he deems to be major contributors to the opioid crisis. To date Esposito has placed spoons at Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Rhodes Pharma in Providence and HHS (to protest the FDA) in the nation's capital. The J&J spoon, like his other spoon sculptures is made of solid aluminum, and includes the J&J moniker engraved on its handle and represents his fourth act of peaceful protest.

For additional information, please contact: Cheryl Riley, 202-403-7971, to view the full version on Judge Balkman's ruling:

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Artist/Activist Domenic Esposito Places 800 lb Opioid Spoon Sculpture at Johnson & Johnson Headquarters to Shine a Light on Sinister Opioid Production and Distribution Practices

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Last Updated: 18-Sep-2019