J&J & The Risk of Recalled Medical Products

October 4, 2012

whitepills.jpgAnyone who thinks that dangerous products are a rarity need only look at the history of Johnson & Johnson, which makes everything from surgical supplies to shampoo.

Our product liability attorneys know that in the last 2.5 years, the company has had no fewer than 25 recalls - and those are only the products it voluntarily identified as being faulty.

What is important for you to understand is recalls do not excuse a company from liability if their product causes harm. Too often, consumers -- and particularly medical patients -- think the Food & Drug Administration ensures these products are safe. That's simply not the case. In most cases, the government watchdog relies upon studies and clinical trials performed by a manufacturer looking to make billions by bringing the next big product to market.

Johnson & Johnson -- one of the world's largest consumer product's companies -- has issued recall after recall in recent years. Reuters recently pulled together a list of products the company has recalled since the summer of 2009. The defective-product risks range from slight to severe.

The DePuy Orthopaedics hip recall is expected to cost Johnson & Johnson billions as thousands of patients have the defective hip removed and a replacement hip implanted. The product, of which about 93,000 were sold, was failing, and many patients were required to undergo a second hip implant surgery.

In January of this year, The FDA accused J&J of failing to report problems with the company's insulin pump, which resulted in perilously high blood pressure and respiratory failure in a number of patients.

The company's over-the-counter division has also suffered through numerous recalls:

Certain brands of infants' and children's Tylenol, which was yanked from the shelves in September of 2009 for a possible bacterial contamination.

Two months later, Tylenol Arthritis pain caplets were recalled after there were numerous reports of a mildew-like odor from the medication that resulted in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. The following month, that recall was expanded to include larger bottles as well.

Then in January, similar reports of that mildew-like smell (which was ultimately linked to a chemical in the wood pallets used to ship the medicine) led to another recall that included 53 million over-the-counter medications, including Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, St. Joseph's Aspirin, and Benadryl. These products were sold not only in the U.S., but also in the UAE and Fiji.

There were also recalls in 2010 for infants', children's and adult pain relievers and allergy medication over concerns about manufacturing deficiencies that affected the purity and potency of the medications. Then another round of Tylenol recalls when there weren't enough warnings about the amount of alcohol used in the flavoring.

In December of that year, about 500,000 bottles of contact lens solution were recalled for complaints of stinging pain. That same month, all Rolaids antacids were recalled due to small bits of metal and wood found in the tablets.

In February 2011, syringes containing antipsychotic medication were pulled because of cracks in the syringes. The next month, insulin pumps were pulled for potential leaks, and there was another recall of 700,000 bottles of Tylenol - for the same must/mold problem. Same problem again in April with Topamax, a drug used to treat epilepsy.

In September, several batches of an anemia drug sold in more than a dozen countries were recalled due to inconsistent potency.

And in August, the company reached a $181 million consumer fraud settlement with 36 states and the District of Columbia over its marketing of antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The company was reportedly promoting the drug for unapproved uses.

The Ferraro Law Firm handles medical malpractice claims as a result of defective medical products or dangerous pharmaceuticals. Call 1-800-275-3332 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Additional Resources:
Timeline: Johnson & Johnson's Product Recalls, Feb. 21, 2012, Reuters

More Blog Entries:
Recall: Popular "Bumbo" Seat Has Caused Dozens of Child Injuries, Aug. 23, 2012, Product Liability Lawyer Blog