Settlement Windfall As J&J Agrees to $33 Million Payment

Settlement Windfall As J&J Agrees to $33 Million Payment

More than 40 states are celebrating after a multi-million dollar settlement with pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson. The price tag this time for J&J is $33 million, which the Chicago Tribune reports will be apportioned out to the affected states.

The agreement relates to a controversy involving J&J subsidiary McNeil-PPC, dating back to 2009. Around that time – and over the following two years – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified repeated examples of the company’s facilities that failed to comply with regulatory requirements. Despite insisting that it adhered to those standards at the time, McNeil-PPC subsequently admitted its guilt in 2015 and paid compensation totaling $25 million.

Those failings ultimately led to the voluntary recall of common over-the-counter drugs such as Sudafed, Motrin, Tylenol, and Benadryl. Many of these products included medication intended for children, which gave the states involved added incentive pursue their lawsuit against the parent company, J&J, as well as its subsidiary. 

Recalls aren’t uncommon and most of them are often precautionary. When it comes to areas of personal health like food and drug recalls, that’s the least consumers should expect. Safety should always come first, but all too often the pursuit of profit obscures that duty of care to consumers.  Johnson and Johnson is no stranger to such conflicting objectives and the legal challenges that arise as a result. The company trails just two of its Big Pharma competitors on the list of largest drug settlements in U.S. history.

While the $33 million settlement total might seem like a lot, it feels like a lot less when spread across the many states that were suing J&J. Divided evenly it would come to around $800,000 per state. In reality, reporting in states like Louisiana places the figure closer to half a million.

Although J&J chose to focus on the voluntary side of the recalls and emphasized its commitment to public safety in a boilerplate statement, the previous culpability of a key subsidiary tells American consumers all they need to know.

The settlement cash will undoubtedly benefit the states to which it flows, but the underlying issue of poor transparency in the pharmaceutical sector remains a major concern for patients and medical professionals. Back in Baton Rouge, Attorney General Jeff Landry summed up the situation in one sentence: “companies that deceive Louisiana consumers are held accountable for their actions.” 

In this case that sentiment is certainly true. Unfortunately, thousands more drug and medical device lawsuits around the country demonstrate that a lot more must be done to extend that accountability across the pharmaceutical sector.

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