Oct 14, 2019

Johnson & Johnson's legal bills keep mounting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Johnson & Johnson has spent $900 million on litigation in the first half of this year, and that tally is only going to swell.

The big picture: J&J is fighting thousands of legal battles over the safety of its prescription drugs and medical devices — chipping away at public trust in a health care company that has become a household name, and threatening to strip billions of dollars out of its coffers.

Where it stands: A jury recently said J&J had to pay $8 billion to a man who claimed he got enlarged breasts from taking the company's antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

  • An Oklahoma judge ruled J&J has to pay $572 million for its role in creating the opioid crisis. Billions more could be on the line for the company in the 2,000 other opioids cases.
  • J&J paid $1 billion earlier this year to settle cases tied to defective metal hip implants.
  • The company is appealing a $4.7 billion verdict tied to claims that its talc powder caused cancer in women.
  • A trial is underway in California over J&J's allegedly faulty pelvic mesh devices.
  • The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether J&J's contracting practices for Remicade, a treatment for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, violate federal antitrust laws.

What we're watching: We'll likely know more about J&J's litigation costs when the company reports its third-quarter earnings this week.

Yes, but: Investors have not fled J&J, because it is the most profitable health care company in the country, collecting almost $9.4 billion of profit in the first half of this year.

What they're saying: J&J submitted a statement that said its "reputation remains strong," and when it comes to its legal cases, "the facts in these cases are on our side."

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Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

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