Health care giant Johnson & Johnson’s legal troubles are apparently giving investor Warren Buffett pause, according to a blog item for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Buffett recently released his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, and it shows that Berkshire had dropped its holdings of Johnson & Johnson stock to below $1 billion for the first time since the end of 2005.
The blog item notes that Johnson & Johnson has gone through a number of problems in recent years, including a disastrous string of recalls and high profile lawsuits.
In the first of about 11,000 lawsuits to go to trial, a New Jersey jury recently awarded a woman $11.1 million to compensate her for injuries from one of the Johnson & Johnson implants. Common complaints from the mesh implants include chronic pain, infection and organ perforation.
And a Los Angeles jury has awarded $8.3 million in damages in the first of about 10,000 lawsuits involving company’s ASR hip implants. A number of studies show nearly half of the implants break down and need replacement within six years. They’re also prone to shedding toxic metal debris in patients’ bodies.
The company has also disclosed that the federal government launched an investigation into its marketing practices for two devices – the ASR hip replacement manufactured by its DePuy Orthopaedics Division, and the Prolift vaginal mesh implant manufactured by its Ethicon subsidiary.
The Inquirer blog entry says that Buffett has criticized Johnson & Johnson in recent interviews. During an interview with CNBC, he said the company “obviously messed up in a lot of ways in the last few years.”
You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns from a Johnson & Johnson product. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a DePuy hip or transvaginal mesh lawyer to discuss your legal rights.
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