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Johnson & Johnson is an American multinational corporation based in New Brunswick, NJ founded in 1886 that develops medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods. The company was founded over 130 years ago by three brothers: Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson. The medical goods company is well known for being the parent company of many household products such as Band-Aid, Mylanta, Listerine, Splenda, Stayfree, Lubriderm, Visine, Purell, Bengay, etc. Johnson & Johnson remains one of the largest medical devices company on Earth. Johnson & Johnson provides some of the most vital products in all of commerce; reducing the impact of AIDS, combating diabetes, helping the deaf hear and the lame to walk.
Recently the company has been caught in a whirlwind of lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in a landmark opioid trial. They have been ordered to pay approximately $572 million dollars in the opioid trial. Personally I believe that the company should be held to the fullest extent of the law for having any involvement in the opioid epidemic. The opioid epidemic has killed almost 400,000 people between the years 1999-2017. An opioid is a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others. It continues to kill 115 Americans each day, for a company that holds so much magnitude in the world today the company should pay every dollar that they are ordered to pay. On August 26, 2019 a judge in Oklahoma ruled that “Johnson & Johnson intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids, and ordered to pay the state $572 million in the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the destruction wrought by prescription painkillers.”
During the court proceedings Judge Balkman was very bleak with his analysis of the company that has made a foundation as a reliable and family-friendly manufacturer of soap, baby powder, and Band-Aid. In the judge’s verdict, he said that Johnson & Johnson had promoted “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns” that had “caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths” and infants exposed to opioids. Johnson & Johnson equipped 60 percent of the opiate ingredients that companies used for opioids like oxycodone. Although many people agree with the verdict against the pharmaceutical company the company attorney does not have the same tune. The company attorney for Johnson & Johnson, Sabrina Strong said in a news conference, “We are disappointed and disagree with the judge’s decision. We believe it is flawed.” I do not think that the company should judge a ruling as the facts show that the company is 100% liable. The facts do not, I believe in the saying “You’re not sorry, you’re sorry you got caught.” What that means in terms of this case is that the company is not disappointed in their actions they are disappointed that they now have to face the repercussions.
This court proceeding in Oklahoma is going to be one of many for the company as there are nearly 2,000 federal lawsuits regarding the opioid epidemic which in some cases relates to the company. The cases are scheduled to begin in Cleveland, Ohio in October. As for my view on this entire case I furthermore believe that Johnson & Johnson should be held accountable for the role that played in the opioid epidemic. In the company’s case they may have contributed to the epidemic unknowingly in which they should not be held solely reliable. However for a company to be that large in magnitude and not have an inkling as to what could possibly be happening in regards to medication that is manufactured through their company is impossible. Someone had to know something. My feelings toward this subject matter are very strong because according to statistics “Two-thirds of global drug deaths now from opioids”. This is something to possibly worry about as it shows the once contained opioid epidemic is becoming widespread once more.
The opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that patients would not become “hooked” to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at higher rates. Increased prescription of opioid medications directly led to corrupt widespread use of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be extremely addictive. The year 2017 had to be one of the worst years for the opioid crisis, as it is reported statistically the most reported deaths caused by opioids. 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid. A known celebrity that revealed their addiction to opioids is Kanye West, he revealed that after his liposuction procedure he became addicted to opioids he was prescribed which then started his opioid addiction. He said that doctors had prescribed him to take two pills a day and as the addiction was fueled he was then up to seven pills a day. He was told by his dealer “you know this is used to kill genius, right?”. You may be thinking what does this have to do with the Johnson & Johnson opioid trial well it could have everything to do with it or nothing at all. Johnson & Johnson could have very well have been the pharmaceutical manufacturer that supplied Kanye with the opioids that fueled his addiction. Or it could have been distributed to his doctor by a minor company that Johnson & Johnson is a parent company to.
To think that one of the biggest pharmaceutical parent companies in the U.S. commerce market has in any way, shape, or form added to the death toll of thousands of people is astonishing. However the decision by Judge Balkman “is a hopeful sign for thousands of similar lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies around the country…”. With a hopeful future for fixing the issues that the company has had in the past more and more companies will now know being deceptive to consumers is not the way to go and will not help a business prosper. The company did issue a statement of their feelings toward this matter stating, “We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We are working with partners to find ways to help those in need.” I believe this is just a learning milestone for the company and that from now on will be more cautious with their pharmaceutical practices so that these events never occur again.
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