In recent years, healthcare and skin powerhouse Johnson & Johnson has found itself the subject of an ongoing cyclone of negative media attention, outraged confusion in customers, a tarnished reputation in the industry, and a financial hell hole. After ongoing legal battles regarding the safety of some of their most beloved products, the company has felt the blow of billions of dollars in losses in the courtroom. Just a few months ago (in March 2019, to be exact), another loss brutalised the company, resulting in millions of dollars being paid out to a victim of the company’s blatant lying and refusal to own up to its mistakes – mistakes that, frighteningly enough, are still occurring and being sold to the market today. A California woman was awarded $29 million in damages after she filed a lawsuit to sue the industry powerhouse for, according to her, is the cause of her mesothelioma. While decades ago this would have been considered a stretch in terms of public perception, heightened awareness and understanding of asbestos and the company’s use of it have resulted in it quickly becoming a common occurrence.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that “affects the thin layer of tissue that covers many internal organs”. This thin layer of tissue is called the mesothelium. The cancer is caused by asbestos, and is most common in the linings of the chest wall and the lungs. This form of cancer is known to hit older individuals the hardest. Interestingly (and harrowingly, for that matter), nearly every documented case of mesothelioma is one that could have easily been prevented if company and industry leaders had operated more on the basis of protecting the people who come into contact with asbestos (no matter the amount or concentration), rather than protecting profits. And this is how and why Johnson & Johnson has found itself in such hot water. It is an unfortunate reality that the company is no stranger to being on the receiving end of a Mesothelioma lawsuit. And even more unfortunate, is that the 13,000 lawsuits (and climbing) against the company are to be expected, when the facts are made clear.
Asbestos, which has been found to be present in some of Johnson & Johnson’s products (including, of course, their baby powder, a product most commonly used on infants), is a dangerous mineral that can cause cancer. Over time, it came to light that Johnson & Johnson allegedly first found asbestos in their baby powder in 1971, and that they did little to nothing to stop its circulation as a key component in their products – especially their baby powder. Now, there are reports from Reuters that the earliest mentions of tainted Johnson & Johnson talcum powder (i.e. baby powder) came from a consulting lab in 1957. The contaminants in the talc (then from the company’s Italian supplier) were described as “fibrous and acicular”. This is interesting, to say the least, because that description is one of the sex minerals that, in their naturally occurring fibrous form, are classified as asbestos.
Since then, the company has been spewing out inconsistent statements and standpoints that not only contradict one another, but that paint a disturbing insight into the inner workings and duty of care of one of the biggest companies in the world. There is currently an ongoing criminal investigation into the company surrounding the allegations that they have been keeping cancer risks in their products (like their globally renowned baby powder), a secret from consumers. This, coupled with the 13,000 (again, and climbing) Mesothelioma lawsuits against the company, cast a disgusted and troubling shadow of doubt over if this is a company that truly cares about the safety and overall quality of each of its products. Johnson & Johnson has always been an institution, and now it is serves also as an exceptionally expensive and long-winded lesson for companies that refuse to put duty of care, safety, and quality first, always.
Healthcare and skin empire Johnson & Johnson has found itself under legal fire in court systems all over the world thanks to ongoing accusations and accompanying cases that accuse the company and its products of being the direct cause of hundreds of individuals’ cancer (in this case, mesothelioma). The company is currently fighting against thousands of lawsuits that all point the finger at the company’s products (namely, the baby powder the company has become so renowned for, all over the world), and is subject to an ongoing criminal investigation. As the lawsuits pile up, and the company comes under consistently stricter pressures in court, there is no telling quite how this series of truly unfortunate events will end. The only certainty is that the financial setback for the once thriving (in every sense of the word) company will come out the other end (if it does at all, that is) with significant financial woes.