Our Favorite “Family Company” Exposes the Corruption in Big Business
Johnson & Johnson — “a family company™,” we’re told by commercials — is developing a decidedly non-familial string of lawsuits related to their products. One strong example: J&J talcum powder. The connection remains tenuous after over forty years of scientific testing, but a correlation between the use of talc powder and cancer has shown in many of the experiments. Johnson & Johnson, for their part, have responded with a concerted effort to undermine these findings and continue production, business as usual.
Of course, that is not the only concern facing current or former customers. There is a slew of other lawsuits — including a massive $1B case involving hip implants — gradually piling up on the company’s roster. J&J responded to each of these suits in uniform fashion: denying all accusations, undermining the defendants’ claims, and throwing money at the case until it goes away.
This is not a slight against J&J alone, though: this is typical operating procedures for most big business.
Less frequent is the number of verdicts found against the company. Two of the most prominent pharma cases of the year — the talcum powder and hip implant cases, respectively — were both decided in favor of the defendants, a decision J&J seeks to repeal. Not only is this costing the company billions of dollars, but it is also tarnishing the reputation of a company image built around family business and neighborly goodwill. This stain is something even a case repeal will not clean.
Take, for instance, the 2013 Risperdal case, which made it clear how important it is that affected consumers take legal action. In it, employees for J&J claimed the company was marketing a drug for uses beyond its intended pharmaceutical purpose.
The drug, commonly prescribed for certain specific psychiatric conditions, was being marketed as a sort of mental disorder cure-all. J&J marketing encouraged patients with Bipolar disorder, dementia, and various mood disorders to use the drug, despite those disorders missing the list for prescribed usage.
The implications of such a move are clear: a broader base of customers means more money for the company. This is especially true when the drug is fairly addictive with long-term use. In a business that already makes a killing from drug dependence in the population, expanding the user base will create a solid long-term investment. It’s clever, in a depraved sort of way.
In a growing trend, the case was decided against Johnson & Johnson, costing the company over $2B from the case itself and the following criminal settlement. The latter case carries some uneasy implications: the company paid out some $800M to settle a criminal investigation into their questionable marketing strategies. Though the case was certainly still a victory for the defendants and customers at J&J, the ability to pay off any potential investigations seems a roundabout admission of guilt.
J&J itself is not, by any means, the only company that participates in nefarious practices like these. This is becoming standard practice among big businesses, particularly those in the pharmaceutical industry. The looming threat of big pharma’s corruption continues to become clearer and clearer to us, and evidence is emerging that pharmaceutical companies are even marketing products with known side effects in order to then market off cures for those less-than-desirable side effects.
Whether Johnson & Johnson really is conspiring to trick the general public or they just don’t run solid enough clinical trials on their drugs and products, we should be keeping a better eye on this company and others like it that may be seeking to exploit the needs of the public. There is always a possibility of redemptions, but it’s going to take some large changes within Johnson & Johnson.