Product News and Recalls

Johnson & Johnson has history of ethical lapses

Johnson & Johnson will reportedly pay a settlement in the neighborhood of $2 billion to settle federal charges that the company used illegal tactics in marketing its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The federal probe prompting that settlement included investigations into the company’s alleged kickbacks to Omnicare Inc., a company that dispenses drugs at nursing homes, to boost sales of certain medicines.

In light of Johnson & Johnson’s enormous profits, some observers have questioned whether even a $2 billion settlement would be enough to dissuade the company from using similar illegal tactics in the future.

In that respect, it’s revealing that Johnson & Johnson paid another settlement over kickback allegations a little more than a year ago. In April, 2011, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $70 million to settle federal charges that the company paid bribes and kickbacks to get overseas business, according to Reuters.

Johnson & Johnson is also facing allegations of unethical practices concerning its DePuy Orthopaedics all-metal artificial hips and transvaginal mesh implants.

Thousands of lawsuits accuse the company of actively marketing both devices despite reports of debilitating – even life-threatening – problems they’re causing for patients. In the case of DePuy hips, those problems include a high early failure rate and a tendency to leave toxic metal debris in patients’ bodies. Transvaginal mesh implants, used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, also have a tendency to fail early and cause severe pain and injury.

The U.S. Justice Department announced in November 2009 that it would focus on prosecuting those in the pharmaceutical industry who try to bribe foreign officials for preferential treatment of their products, leading to a wide-ranging probe, according to Reuters.

Dating back to 1998, Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries were accused of paying bribes to public doctors in Greece to select its surgical implants and in Romania to prescribe its medicines.

J&J units were also accused of paying bribes to public doctors and hospital administrators in Poland to win contracts and of paying kickbacks to Iraq to win 19 contracts under the U.N.’s Oil for Food Program.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns from a transvaginal mesh or metal-on-metal hip implant. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a DePuy hip or transvaginal mesh lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

See the Reuters story here: