Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay Billions for Product Injuries, Opioid Crisis

Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 100,000 lawsuits over product marketing and safety tactics and, rather than settling, is battling many of them in court.

Several thousand of these cases are related to the opioid epidemic. Numerous judges and juries have ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay billions of dollars for fueling opioid sales, while another 15,500 lawsuits are related to talc in baby powder, and nearly 25,000 are regarding pelvic mesh devices for women.

For example, in Missouri, the company was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to the families of 22 women with ovarian cancer allegedly caused by the company’s baby powder. In Oklahoma, a judge found that Johnson & Johnson should pay $572 million to the state for damages caused by the opioid crisis. The company plans to appeal both cases.

By fighting back against these lawsuits rather than settling, the company can delay and drag out the process, potentially reducing awards and overturning decisions. Still, the publicity of these verdicts is damaging Johnson & Johnson’s reputation. Its ranking in a pharmaceutical reputation index by Alva Group has fallen from the top 10 in 2014 to number 57 out of 58 companies.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019.