J&J Receives Dubious Honor for “Bad Behavior” in Talc Litigation

J&J Receives Dubious Honor for “Bad Behavior” in Talc Litigation

By seeking to avoid legal responsibility for the company’s cancer-causing talcum powder products, Johnson & Johnson has landed on an annual list highlighting the “worst examples of profiteering and dysfunction in healthcare.”

The list of the Lown Institute’s 6th Annual Shkreli Awards includes 10 individuals and organizations and is named for the infamous “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of federal securities fraud and conspiracy in 2017 for unlawfully manipulating drug prices.

In announcing J&J’s 5th Place position on the list, the Institute notes:

Johnson & Johnson had known for decades that asbestos, a deadly carcinogen, could be contaminating their talc baby powder products but continued selling them anyway. Now J&J faces lawsuits from 40,000 cancer patients, many of them Black women, as J&J allegedly marketed its talc-based products specifically to this population. To avoid the lawsuits, J&J created a subsidiary company with all of the baby powder-related liabilities and then declared this shell company bankrupt, NPR reported. Despite this “bankruptcy,” J&J ranked in the top 50 of Fortune’s largest companies last year. 

Also on the list are a group of major Medicare Advantage insurers facing charges of fraud and overbilling; a hospice provider allegedly involved in a scheme to heavily medicate patients to speed up their death; and a Wisconsin dentist who aggressively sold crowns to patients and then intentionally broke their teeth to defraud dental insurance companies.