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Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is the world’s largest health care company. It is also the highest paid drug company in the world. J&J remains at the top of the Big Pharma list of powerful corporations. It is well known for consumer products like Band-Aids, Johnson’s Baby Powder and Tylenol. Its drugs, devices and products have led to scandals and lawsuits.

Johnson & Johnson has built a health care empire. It includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, orthopedic implants, surgical products and household products.

The most popular brands include Band-Aids, Tylenol and Johnson’s Baby Powder. Still, more than 90 percent of J&J’s revenue comes from prescription drugs and medical devices.

A Huffington Post investigation called J&J “America’s most admired lawbreaker.”

J&J has been at the center of scandals and government investigations. It has issued recalls of some of its drugs and devices.

Consumers harmed by J&J products are suing the company. They question the company’s motives and say it puts profits over people.

In 2019, it recalled tens of thousands of bottles of its iconic Johnson’s Baby Powder after the FDA found small amounts of asbestos in a sample.

Then in May 2020, the company said it would stop selling talcum-based baby powder in Canada and the United States after state juries ordered the company to pay billions of dollars to people who claimed the product gave them cancer.

The company said it stopped selling the product because of low sales. It still faces more than 20,000 federal talcum powder lawsuits in multidistrict litigation and many more in state courts as of September 2020.

In October 2020, Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle more than 1,000 talcum powder lawsuits for $100 million.

Lawyers in the federal lawsuits expect to prepare for bellwether trials soon but none have been scheduled as of September 2020.

About Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has over 125,000 employees spread across 60 countries. Its main headquarters is in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

J&J brought in more than $76 billion in 2017. It ranked No. 1 in annual revenue among its competitors.

Alex Gorsky is its CEO. He is the seventh CEO to head J&J.

Johnson & Johnson Headquarters
Johnson & Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Johnson & Johnson History

Robert, James and Edward Johnson founded Johnson & Johnson in 1886 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The company focused on bandages, sterile sutures and wound care.

The company also sold women’s health products. These included sanitary protection products. It also sold maternity kits with first-aid products to make childbirth safer.

J&J created the first commercial dressings applied by consumers. We know this product made in 1921 as Band-Aids.

Johnson & Johnson Subsidiaries

Johnson & Johnson is a parent company for over 250 subsidiaries. Together, the companies make up “the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.”

Johnson & Johnson Subsidiaries Include:
  • McNeil
  • Janssen
  • Cilag
  • LifeScan
  • Biosense Webster
  • DePuy
  • Ethicon
  • Actelion
  • J&J Vision Care (Acuvue)
  • Animas Corporation (OneTouch)
  • Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP)
  • Acclarent
  • J&J Holdings
  • Neutrogena
  • Ortho
  • Synthes

Johnson & Johnson products fall into three categories. These include consumer health care products, medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs.

Popular J&J Products and Brands
sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor to treat Type 2 diabetes
pain reliever
fluoroquinolone antibiotic
antipsychotic drug
medication used to prevent seizures and migraines
blood thinner
ADHD drug
Power Morcellators
device used to remove fibroids
Transvaginal Mesh
net-like implant for treating pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence
Hip Replacement
artificial joint
Knee Replacement
artificial implant
Johnson's Baby Powder
personal care product that contains talc
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after Johnson's Baby Powder use? Get a Free Case Review

Notable Johnson & Johnson Recalls

Johnson & Johnson recalled some of its most popular products after patients reported injuries. The FDA and other government agencies investigated.

Notable J&J Recalls
  • 1982 - McNeil

    Product Recalled - Tylenol (acetaminophen) capsules

    Reason for Recall - Medicine laced with potassium cyanide (poison) resulting in several patient deaths

  • 2009 to 2011 - McNeil

    Product Recalled - Several OTC medicines including Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, St. Joseph aspirin, Sudafed, Pepcid, Mylanta, Rolaids, Zyrtec, Zyrtec Eye Drops (tens of millions of bottles)

    Reason for Recall - Unpleasant smells causing nausea; tiny metal shards in liquid medicines; wrong ingredient levels

  • 2010 - DePuy [Pinnacle Systems]

    Product Recalled - ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR XL Acetabular System (metal-on-metal hip implants)

    Reason for Recall - Metal poisoning (metallosis); loosening of the implant or joint dislocation; additional surgeries

  • 2012 - Ethicon

    Product Recalled - Gynecare Prolift Kit, Gynecare Prolift+M Kit, Gynecare TVT Secure and Gynecare Prosima Pelvic Floor Repair System Kit (transvaginal mesh implants)

    Reason for Recall - Perforation of organs; vaginal bleeding and scarring; mesh erosion; severe pain

  • 2013 - McNeil

    Product Recalled - Motrin (ibuprofen) for infants (200,000 liquid bottles)

    Reason for Recall - May contain tiny particles of plastic

  • 2013 - Janssen

    Product Recalled - Risperdal Consta (injectable antipsychotic drug) (one lot)

    Reason for Recall - Routine testing showed evidence of mold

  • 2014 - Ethicon

    Product Recalled - Power Morcellators

    Reason for Recall - Spread of uterine cancer; rapid progression of the disease; death

  • 2016 - Ethicon

    Product Recalled - Physiomesh flexible composite hernia mesh

    Reason for Recall - Studies showed higher revision rates after implant

  • 2017 - SterilMed

    Product Recalled - Agilis Steerable Introducer Sheath (hemostatic heart valve)

    Reason for Recall - Device failure due to an improper seal of the sheath hub, which can allow blood leakage, device detachment during the procedure or development of an air embolism

  • 2019 – Johnson & Johnson

    Product Recalled33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder

    Reason for Recall – The FDA found a small amount of asbestos — a known carcinogen — in a sample

Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits

J&J has faced hundreds of thousands of lawsuits over claims its products are defective.

Lawsuits point to internal documents showing J&J and its subsidiaries knew about problems with their products but sold them anyway.

In addition to individual product liability lawsuits, individual states who say Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the opioid crisis are suing the company for millions of dollars.

Pending Lawsuits Against J&J as of September 2020
DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System

Number of Lawsuits - 2,897

Injuries - dislocation, loosening, metallosis (metal poisoning), revision surgeries

Pinnacle Acetabular Cup

Number of Lawsuits - 7,992

Injuries - dislocation, loosening, metallosis (metal poisoning), revision surgeries

Pelvic (Transvaginal) Mesh

Number of Lawsuits - 284

Injuries - erosion, infection, pain, urinary problems, recurring prolapse, recurring incontinence


Number of Lawsuits - 12,597

Injuries - severe, sometimes deadly bleeding events, blood clots, wound leaks, infection

Johnson’s Talcum Powder

Number of Lawsuits - 20,449

Injuries - ovarian cancer, mesothelioma cancer

The company is facing smaller, emerging litigations for the interstitial cystitis (IC) drug Elmiron and DePuy’s Attune knee implants.

Elmiron litigation is in the beginning stages with a handful of cases filed in state courts, but lawyers expect hundreds more. People who filed lawsuits say Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit failed to warn them that the drug could cause vision problems, particularly a condition called pigmentary maculopathy.

DePuy’s Attune knee implant litigation is ongoing, and people who filed lawsuits say the implant loosened and failed leading to pain and revision surgery.

DePuy hip litigation is ongoing, and juries have awarded more than a billion dollars to plaintiffs who say they were injured by faulty Pinnacle hip implants. In February 2019, Bloomberg reported the company may be willing to pay $400 million to settle 3,300 of the claims but was not offering a global settlement.

Major Johnson & Johnson Verdicts and Settlements

J&J was involved in seven of 2017’s top ten health-care-related verdicts.

The company was also involved in the third-largest pharmaceutical settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2013, J&J paid the Justice Department more than $2.2 billion. The settlement resolved civil and criminal allegations involving Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor.

Recent J&J Verdicts and Settlements
  • February 2016
    A jury in Missouri ordered J&J to pay $72 million in a Johnson’s Baby Powder case. An appeals court tossed the verdict in 2017.
  • March 2016
    A jury in Texas awarded five patients $500 million in a Pinnacle hip implant case. State law required the award be cut to $150 million.
  • December 2016
    A jury awarded $1 billion to six patients in a Pinnacle hip implant case. A judge slashed the award to $543 million.
  • April 2017
    A jury in Philadelphia ordered J&J to pay $20 million in a transvaginal mesh lawsuit.
  • May 2017
    A jury in Missouri awarded $110.5 million to a woman who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talcum powder. J&J planned to appeal the verdict.
  • May 2017
    J&J paid $33 million to most U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The states charged J&J with misrepresenting the manufacturing practices behind certain drugs. This included its Motrin products. These products were later recalled.
  • August 2017
    A California jury ordered J&J to pay $417 million in a Johnson’s Baby Powder and talcum powder case. A trial judge overturned the verdict in October 2017 and ordered a new trial.
  • November 2017
    A federal jury in Dallas ordered J&J to pay six patients $247 million in a Pinnacle hip implant case. J&J said it planned to appeal the verdict.
  • December 2017
    A federal jury in Philadelphia ordered J&J to pay $27.8 million in a Xarelto bleeding lawsuit. A judge overturned the verdict in 2018.
  • December 2017
    A New Jersey federal jury issued a verdict of $15 million against J&J in a Prolift pelvic mesh case.
  • March 2018
    An Indiana jury awarded a woman $35 million in a Prolift pelvic mesh case. J&J planned to appeal the verdict.
Johnson & Johnson Logo
Johnson & Johnson Facts
  1. Established 1886
  2. Headquarters New Brunswick, New Jersey
  3. 2017 Revenue $76.45 billion
  4. Founders Robert, James and Edward Johnson
  5. Size More than 125,000 employees
  6. Subsidiaries Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Ethicon, DePuy Orthopaedics, McNeil Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co., Neutrogena and more

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Kristin Compton
Written By Kristin Compton Writer

Kristin Compton's background is in legal studies. She worked as a paralegal before joining Drugwatch as a writer and researcher. She was also a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants. A mother and longtime patient, she has firsthand experience of the harmful effects prescription drugs can have on women and their children. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies | Pre-Law from University of West Florida
  • Past employment with The Health Law Firm and Kerrigan, Estess, Rankin, McLeod & Thompson LLC
  • Personal experience battling severe food allergies, asthma and high-risk pregnancies
Edited By
Emily Miller
Emily Miller Managing Editor

35 Cited Research Articles writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts. Review our editorial policy to learn more about our process for producing accurate, current and balanced content.

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