It doesn’t take a long memory to recall a time when Johnson & Johnson might have been one of the most trusted pharmaceutical and health care brands in the world. The company’s marketing was the epitome of wholesomeness – adorable babies, “No Tears” shampoos, healthy families, “ouchless” Band-Aids. Throw in a slice of apple pie and its public relations campaigns were nothing short of pure Americana.
What a farce. If allegations brought in recent litigation hold true, Johnson & Johnson might go down as one of the darkest marks in corporate American history. Its role in expanding and feeding the opioid epidemic aside, the corporation appears to have perpetuated a decades-long lie, all the while fighting tooth and nail to continue pumping asbestos into American homes through its talc products. And now it seems as though the world’s most trusted healthcare goods manufacturer has managed to find a way to even make that just a little bit more evil.
In a report recently filed by Reuters, evidence suggests that Johnson & Johnson is considering a legal move that would spin off a new company, dump its talc businesses and liabilities to that new company, and then immediately declare that company bankrupt.
Yes – it’s legal. On the books in Texas as what is known as a “divisive merger,” its other name is the Texas two-step bankruptcy, and it has been used before. In fact, in what can only be described as cruel irony, the Texas two-step bankruptcy was used in 2017 by Georgia-Pacific to protect itself from asbestos liabilities.
Make no mistake – Johnson & Johnson knew that its talc products contained asbestos, and it knew that fact for decades. It is well documented in the company’s own internal files and communication. And now, a corporation worth almost half a trillion dollars is diligently working to find a way to avoid paying American families for contaminating their homes with one of the most well-known cancer-causing agents in the world.
Perhaps that is Johnson & Johnson’s most “Americana” act of them all.