David S. Jasmer
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Multiple product liability suits haunt Johnson & Johnson

Things do not appear to be going well for Johnson & Johnson these past few years. Though the pharmaceutical giant is still making massive amounts of money, it has been plagued by product liability suits. The company recently allotted $600 million for a fine that will be paid during the company's second quarter. According to reports, that amount is made up of several settlements that will end multiple lawsuits surrounding the supposedly improper marketing of several drugs, along with allegations of bribery.

Currently, the antipsychotic drug Risperdal is at the center of several suits. One judge told J&J that the company must pay for misleading doctors and patients about the risks associated with the medication. That judge fined the pharmaceutical giant $1.1 billion in penalties during the month of April. A spokeswoman for J&J said that either an appeal or a new trial will be sought for this ruling.

In addition to the penalties already charged, suits are appearing in several states over the antipsychotic drug. In two of those states, judges have ordered J&J to pay almost $600 million for penalties that are likely similar to those already mentioned. Also, the company agreed in January to pay $158 million to settle allegations that it improperly marketed the drug in yet another state. These suits should serve as a warning to any users of the drug in Illinois. If you are using the medication, be sure to speak with a physician about its risks.

Adding to the legislative woes of the company, two other drugs -- Invega and Natrecor -- were allegedly marketed for unapproved uses by J&J. The company has also been accused of paying kickbacks to a pharmacy services company in order to boost the sales of Risperdal in nursing home patients. If this is true, the company may have dug a portion of the hole it has found itself in.

The company's new chief executive has said that the company will do its best to restore confidence in its investors and consumers in the years to come.

Source: FT.com, "J&J to take $600m charge on settlements," Alan Rappeport, June 9, 2012

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