Breaking news out of Philadelphia as Reuters is reporting that Johnson & Johnson must pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who previously won $680,000 over his claims that it failed to warn that young men using its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could grow breasts. The case is one of thousands in Philadelphia alone with more than 13,000 across the country making the drug yet another product Johnson & Johnson must defend against legal challenges in courts across America.
Johnson & Johnson’s public relations department was already in shambles from its legal loss in Oklahoma in which it was ordered to pay $572M in the landmark legal case for causing the opioid crisis in that state.
Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Johnson and Johnson agreed to settle for $20.4M before the upcoming opioid case in Ohio. Another landmark case in which OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma decided to declare bankruptcy instead of going to trial.
Johnson and Johnson, a corporate juggernaut, has its hands full putting out legal fires on many fronts. Beyond their opioid and Risperdal struggles, the company is facing more than 15,000 cases due to cancers caused by their asbestos-contaminated talc and approximately 30,000 cases over a failure to include serious risks in instructions and marketing materials for its surgical mesh devices.
In September alone, J&J has paid out $37.3M and $40M in damages in two separate cases involving cancers caused by their talc. A similar case in 2018 saw a jury verdict against the company award a record $4.69 billion to 22 women.
In addition, The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice have opened investigations into Johnson & Johnson over concerns about possible asbestos contamination of its talc-based products.
In April, J&J agreed to settle a case involving 14,000 women in Washington State alone brought by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. In Philadelphia there have been eight jury decisions against the company in vaginal mesh cases with awards now totaling $346 million.
A recent Gallup poll revealed the pharmaceutical industry is the most despised industry in America. Very few people are likely surprised.
On a weekly basis one can find national headlines exposing pharmaceutical industry corruption. A rather new phenomenon however are the regular waves reports revealing jaw-dropping legal losses for pharmaceutical companies because of the harms their products have caused.
Looking at the legal landscape of Big Pharma cases, failure to warn, overstating the safety of products and concealing known harms appear to be the internal ‘profits over people’ directives rather than the exception.
What other products did Johnson & Johnson knowing fail to warn people about? How much human harm is, and has been, caused by Johnson & Johnson’s decisions to stabilize the health of their bottom line while destabilizing the health of an entire country?