j and j sued $50m listerene cancer risk.

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    Johnson (JNJ), the world?s second-largest maker of health-care products, was sued for at least $70 million by a company that claims it interfered in a contract over distribution of an oral cancer test.

    Oral Cancer Prevention International Inc., a private company based in Suffern, New York, sued over a contract it signed in February 2010 with OraPharma Inc., then a J&J unit. OraPharma agreed to distribute OCPI?s Oral CDx Brush Test, which identifies precancerous cells in the mouth, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey.

    J&J, which also sells Listerine mouthwash, then grew ?extremely concerned about the implications? of a study published in Australia that linked mouthwashes with a high alcohol content to cancer, according to the complaint. J&J did not want to ?lend credence to the link between Listerine and oral cancer? by selling both its mouthwash and OralCDx, the complaint said.

    ?Johnson & Johnson induced OraPharma to breach the sales agreement to suppress sales of and withhold from the public a proven life-saving oral cancer prevention product in order to protect the sales of its mouthwash, Listerine, which has been linked to oral cancer,? said the complaint, filed July 6.

    Bonnie Jacobs, a spokesman for New Brunswick, New Jersey- based J&J, said the ?company is confident that we have engaged in proper business practices and we look forward to the opportunity to resolve this matter through the legal system.?

    Private Equity Firm

    In January 2011, a Chicago-based private equity firm, Water Street Healthcare Partners, bought OraPharma from J&J. The company?s main product is Arestin, a locally administered antibiotic used by dentists to treat periodontitis.

    In 2009, OraPharma sales representatives promoted Arestin and Listerine to dentists, and company officials believed that ?selling OralCDx would double OraPharma?s revenues,? according to the complaint.

    Before signing the agreement with OraPharma, J&J failed to disclose that it intended to launch an alcohol-free mouthwash called ?Listerine Zero,? according to the complaint.

    That product ?was carefully branded to conceal the fact that it was developed primarily in response to the Australian mouthwash oral cancer study? and the subsequent drop in Listerine?s Australian sales, according to the complaint.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-08/johnson-johnson-sued-over-oral-cancer-prevention-contract.html
 
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