Court orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.69 Billion to cancer victims

Scott Eells/Bloomberg

❝ Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a jury to pay $4.69 billion to women who claimed asbestos in the company’s talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer, marking the sixth-largest product-defect verdict in U.S. history.

The award of $4.14 billion in punitive damages on top of the $550 million meant to compensate each of 22 women and their families for their losses sent the company’s shares down by as much as 1.4 percent in after-hours trading.

❝ The verdict Thursday by jurors in St. Louis city court came in the first test of plaintiffs’ claims of an asbestos-ovarian cancer link in use of J&J’s iconic baby powder. The asbestos cases are part of more than 9,000 claims alleging that J&J’s talc products cause cancer…

❝ J&J “will appeal till the cows come home, or until all the plaintiffs die,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Mark Lanier said in an interview Thursday. J&J should pull its talc-based products from the market or “mark it with a serious warning,” he said.

The era that has produced a wide and expanding gap between those who profit and those whose work creates value continues the work of thugs like Trump. Fear taking responsibility for your greed, the crimes committed in the name of profit? Don’t worry. You own a president who will try his hardest to stack the courts on the side of corporate wealth. Soon enough, with the cooperation of Congressional Republicans and so-called “centrist” Dems, all that is needed to continue the rape of this Earth will be sufficient buck$ to carry a case to the Supreme Court.

Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil admits guilt — $25 Million fine for contaminated meds

McNeil-PPC Inc. pled guilty to one count of an information charging the company with delivering for introduction into interstate commerce adulterated infants’ and children’s over-the-counter (OTC) liquid medicines.

As part of the criminal resolution, McNeil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, agreed to pay a criminal fine of $20 million and forfeit $5 million…

In addition to McNeil’s guilty plea, McNeil remains subject to a permanent injunction entered by the U.S. District Court in 2011, requiring the company, among other things, to make remedial measures before reopening its manufacturing facility in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania…

According to the information, the OTC liquid drugs manufactured by McNeil at its Fort Washington facility, including Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol and Infants’ and Children’s Motrin, were bottled on four lines of machinery dedicated to liquid formulations. On or about May 1, 2009, McNeil received a complaint from a consumer regarding the presence of “black specks in the liquid on the bottom of the bottle” of Infants’ Tylenol. The foreign material was later identified as including nickel/chromium-rich inclusions, which were not intended ingredients in this OTC liquid drug.

The information alleges numerous other instances in which McNeil found metal particles in bottles of Infants’ Tylenol at its Fort Washington facility but failed to initiate or complete a Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA)…

During the 2010 inspection, the FDA asked McNeil for the CAPA plan covering the particles and foreign material found in the Infants’ and Children’s OTC drugs, and a McNeil employee confirmed that McNeil did not have such a CAPA plan.

RTFA if you want all the legalese.

In short, these creeps knew about the contamination problem for a year before they were caught. In my mind, that’s about as corrupt as you can be – short of deliberately trying to harm children.

Let’s don’t forget this case goes back to 2010. McNeil have had their corporate lawyers drag this case out hoping to cut their losses over time – pleading guilty after five years.

Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2 billion settlement

Pharma company Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations in the US that it promoted powerful psychiatric drugs for unapproved uses in children, seniors and disabled patients.

The allegations include paying kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to recommend and prescribe Risperdal and Invega, both anti-psychotic drugs, and Natrecor, which is used to treat heart failure…

The figure includes $1.72 billion in civil settlements with federal and state governments as well as $485 million in criminal fines and forfeited profits.

The agreement is the third-largest US settlement involving a drug-maker, and the latest in a string of legal actions against drug companies allegedly putting profits ahead of patients.

These companies lined their pockets at the expense of American taxpayers, patients and the private insurance industry,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, at a news conference…

“Every time pharmaceutical companies engage in this type of conduct, they corrupt medical decisions by health care providers, jeopardise the public health and take money out of taxpayers’ pockets,” the Attorney General said…

In a separate civil complaint, the government alleges Janssen Pharmaceuticals also promoted the drug as a way to control behavioural problems in children and mentally disabled.

The drugmaker allegedly downplayed Risperdal’s side effects while also paying kickbacks to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy to recommend the drug to prescribers.

Please, please – in addition to the cash settlement, throw the creeps in jail who made the decision to pursue criminal fraud to maximize profits. That is the polite definition of corporate theft, right?

Hip implant maker was aware of 40% failure rate

An internal analysis conducted by Johnson & Johnson in 2011 not long after it recalled a troubled hip implant estimated that the all-metal device would fail within five years in nearly 40 percent of patients who received it, newly disclosed court records show.

Johnson & Johnson never released those projections for the device, the Articular Surface Replacement, or A.S.R., which the company recalled in mid-2010. But at the same time that the medical products giant was performing that analysis, it was publicly playing down similar findings from a British implant registry about the device’s early failure rate.

Some folks call that kind of lying “fraud”.

The company’s analysis also suggests that the implant is likely to fail prematurely over the next few years in thousands more patients in addition to those who have already had painful and costly procedures to replace it…

The A.S.R. belonged to a once-popular class of hip implants in which a device’s cup and ball component were both made of metal. While the A.S.R. was the most failure-prone of those implants, surgeons have largely abandoned using such devices in standard hip replacement because their components can grind together, releasing metallic debris that damages a patient’s tissue and bone…

About 7,000 of the A.S.R. lawsuits have been consolidated in a federal court in Ohio. An additional 2,000 cases have been consolidated in a California state court. The California case chosen to go to trial this week was selected because the plaintiff, a man named Loren Kransky, has cancer and may not live much longer, lawyers involved in the case said. DePuy has already settled a few A.S.R. cases before trial and it may choose to do so in Mr. Kransky’s case as well.

About 93,000 patients worldwide received an A.S.R., about one-third of them in the United States…

Aside from the class action liability – which I hope results in suitable replacement, compensation to patients and penalties exacted from Johnson and Johnson – I hope there is concerted action from the government to penalize J&J for the fraud committed by continued lies about the durability of the device if not an equal fraud in getting it approved for implant in the first place.

That should includes fines. That should include prison time for those who made each decision to lie to the government, the medical community and to patients.

A small pill, a large campaign — with positive side effects

Beginning of the campaign in February

On a cool February morning in north Delhi, “35 third graders sat at small desks in a spartan but tidy classroom,”Amy Yee writes in The New York Times. “They wore blue school uniforms and listened as their teacher asked in Hindi if they had had intestinal worms.”

“A third of the children raised their hands, including 9-year-old Arjun Prasad,” Ms. Yee writes. He sometimes felt stomach pain and weakness — symptoms of severe infection — he said. “A few minutes later, Arjun and his classmates were given deworming pills, and took them during the class,” she writes. “They were among the 3.7 million children in Delhi who have taken the pills as part of a recent campaign in India’s capital to stamp out the widespread but neglected ailment.”

The chewable pill, mebendazole, which the Delhi schoolchildren said tasted like peppermint, costs just 3 cents. It is safe, easy to administer in schools (teachers can be trained to do it) and costs 50 cents per child to distribute twice a year. Within a few days the pill flushes worms out of the body.

The Delhi campaign followed others in India. Bihar, a western state for years practically synonymous with poverty in India, last year dewormed a staggering 17 million schoolchildren — nearly double the population of Sweden. Andhra Pradesh, in southern India, distributed deworming tablets to 2 million children in 2009.

If giving deworming pills to schoolchildren is so easy and effective, why haven’t more large-scale programs taken off? Ms. Yee asks. In fact, rolling out mass deworming programs, especially in “infamously bureaucratic and corrupt India, is a huge logistical feat and a notable act of political will,” she writes…

Deworming tablets are widely used (they are sold over the counter in India) and don’t carry the political and ethical sensitivities of vaccines. They are generic, so patents are not an issue. Students do not need parental consent to take them, thus decreasing bureaucracy…

However, the deworming campaigns are just one more important step. Momentum must be sustained; children should take deworming pills twice a year for several years if infection is high…

Bihar is readying for the second round of deworming this May, and Delhi has pledged another deworming day this summer. “Government will take this on, they won’t take it halfway,” pledged Kiran Walia, Delhi’s minister for women and child development, in an interview in Delhi in February.

The world will watch and hope. The world will watch and offer more help if needed.

RTFA for lots more detail.

World’s most admired companies

The view, of course – coming from a Fortune magazine survey – is defined by other businessmen. There are social and ethical components because in many industries and trades, those qualities are part of profitability.

I’d probably omit advertising agencies, especially those specializing in politicians – and oil companies.

And the winners are

Which companies have the best reputations? Apple tops the list for the third year in a row. Who else made the top 50 this year?

Apple, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson,

If you’d like to see the whole list, look over here.

And here’s how they ran the survey.

Why did this catch my eye? The geekness. Look back a decade. Did you ever think 3 of the Top 5 most admired companies would come from the world of high tech?