Court Hears Father's Touching Testimony In Oklahoma Opioid Trial
NORMAN, Oklahoma - A father testified in Oklahoma's opioid trial Tuesday, telling the judge he started a national non-profit to fight addiction after his son struggled with prescription painkillers, and ultimately died.
Gary Mendell started "Shatterproof" after his son struggled with opioid and heroin addiction for eight years.
He told the judge his son, Brian, had been clean for a year when he took his own life, unable to deal with the stigmas of addiction and the urges to relapse. Mendell said Brian was ashamed of his addiction, as was their whole family.
Mendell said one of the missions of "Shatterproof" is to educate people about addiction and erase the stigma that all addicts are criminals with little to no willpower over the drugs they take.
"How does it make someone feel who's addicted, knowing that more than 8 out of 10 out there ... say I don't want you as my neighbor. I don't want you dating my daughter. I'm not sure I can promote you in our business. How does that make someone feel?" he said.
Oklahoma's plan to end the state's epidemic lists "stigma" as a public education point, but Mendell said there's not nearly enough money listed to actually work on the problem.
Oklahoma's Chief Medical Examiner also testified Tuesday telling the judge that, in his opinion, there are dangerous effects of one particular Johnson & Johnson product.
Dr. Eric Pfeifer went through more than a dozen autopsy reports for the judge. Each report referenced that the person was either wearing too many Duragesic fentanyl patches or that the person had chewed on the patch and swallowed it, causing an overdose. In one case, a woman had 16 patches on her body at one time.
Duragesic is Johnson & Johnson's fentanyl patch product. Patients are supposed to wear one patch for three days at a time, but Dr. Pfiefer said patients often abuse the patch.
The Johnson & Johnson attorney also questioned Dr. Pfeifer, asking him if they had any way of telling whether the patches were prescribed, or taken illegally. Dr. Pfeifer said they aren't able to tell that when doing an autopsy.