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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 with more than $82 billion in annual revenue in 2020. Its top products include Tylenol, Stelara, Invega and various medical devices.

Last Modified: March 30, 2021
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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 consumer brands include Band-Aids, Tylenol and Johnson’s Baby Powder. Still, the bulk of J&J’s revenue comes from prescription drugs and medical devices.

But the health care giant has faced its share of lawsuits. 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.

COVID-19 Vaccine

On Feb 26, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization to J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine, developed by the company’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, is the third to be granted an EU.

“Johnson & Johnson is committed to making its COVID-19 vaccine available on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use,” the company said in a February 2021 press release.

J&J plans to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March 2021 and 100 million shots to the United States during the first half of 2021.

The J&J vaccine is:
  • Overall, 67 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after vaccination
  • Overall, 66 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 occurring at least 28 days after vaccination.
  • 85 percent effective against severe disease alone

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it can be stored in refrigerator temperatures, only takes one shot to be effective and was tested against new COVID-19 variants prior to receiving its EUA.

The J&J vaccine does not contain a live virus. It uses a modified adenovirus type 26, a virus that causes cold symptoms and pink eye, to help the body make proteins that prepare the body to fight COVID-19.

Common side effects were headache, pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. These side effects were mostly mild to moderate and lasted 1-2 days.

About Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has over 135,000 employees spread across 60 countries. Its main headquarters are in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

J&J brought in more than $82.6 billion in 2020. 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.

Revenue from business segments in 2020:
Pharmaceutical Sales - $45.6 billion
Top revenue-producing drugs include: Stelara, Darzalex, Imbruvica, Tremfya, Erleada, Uptravi, Invega, Symtuza, Opsumit
Medical Device Sales - $23 billion
Top revenue-producing devices include: Hip implants, knee implants, spine implants, contact lenses and surgery products such as surgical mesh
Consumer Health Sales - $14.1 billion
Top revenue-producing products include: Tylenol, Listerine, Band-Aid, Pepcid, Aveeno, Zyrtec
Popular J&J Products and Brands
Elmiron
only FDA-approved oral drug to treat bladder pain and discomfort of interstitial cystitis
Proceed Mesh
Surgical hernia mesh
Invokana
sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor to treat Type 2 diabetes
Tylenol
pain reliever
Levaquin
fluoroquinolone antibiotic
Risperdal
antipsychotic drug
Topamax
medication used to prevent seizures and migraines
Xarelto
blood thinner
Concerta
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 made with cornstarch, talc baby powder was discontinued in May 2020
Diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after talcum powder use?

Notable Johnson & Johnson Recalls

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

In May 2020, J&J made the decision to stop selling Johnson’s Baby Powder with talc in the United States and Canada.

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 February 2021
DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System

Number of Lawsuits - 550

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

Pinnacle Acetabular Cup

Number of Lawsuits - 7,056

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

Xarelto

Number of Lawsuits - 13,511

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

Johnson’s Talcum Powder

Number of Lawsuits - 27,168

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.

Did you experience vision damage after taking Elmiron?

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.

Talcum Powder Litigation

In 2019, J&J 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. The company said it stopped selling the product because of low sales.

But state juries have ordered the company to pay billions of dollars to people who claimed the product gave them cancer. 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 February 2021.

J&J still faces more than 27,100 federal talcum powder lawsuits in multidistrict litigation and many more in state courts as of February 2021.

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.

J&J has successfully defended many of its product liability cases, but it has still faced billions in jury verdicts and settlements.

One of the largest verdicts was an $8 billion award to a single Risperdal plaintiff in October 2019. The trial judge later reduced the verdict to $6.8 million.

Talcum powder lawsuits continue to pile on for J&J. In 2021, Reuters reported the company set aside about $4 billion in 2020 for litigation expenses related to talc.

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.
  • July 2018
    A St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 plaintiffs who said J&J’s talcum powder products caused their ovarian cancer. It was later reduced.
  • March 2019
    A California jury awarded $29.4 million to a woman who said she developed mesothelioma after using J&J’s talcum powder products.
  • October 2019
    A Pennsylvania jury awarded $8 billion to a plaintiff in a Risperdal case. It was later reduced to $6.8 million.
  • June 2020
    A New Jersey jury awarded $750 million in punitive damages to four people who said J&J’s talcum powder products caused them to develop mesothelioma. The award was later reduced.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.