The healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) released its second quarter earnings report and managed to surpass expectations. The company’s sales for its consumer products division were down this quarter, to no surprise. Consumer distrust of the company has been slowly growing in light of the recent baby powder lawsuits. With thousands of additional baby powder lawsuits pending, it is likely the company’s consumer products division will continue to suffer from reputation problems.
But sales of the company’s prescription drugs surged this quarter. Among the top earners were Invokana and Xarelto, both of which are the subjects of active lawsuits. Xarelto is a popular blood thinner that was originally praised for being superior to its predecessor, Warfarin, because it did not require routine blood monitoring, had no dietary restrictions, and had fewer drug interactions. Unlike its predecessor, Xarelto has no antidote, meaning there is no consistent way to reverse the drug’s effects. This has led many patients to claim Xarelto is more dangerous than traditional blood thinners, and the manufacturers failed to warn patients of the heightened risks. The FDA issued a black box warning for Xarelto in 2014, but it continues to be a blockbuster for the company. J&J is now facing nearly 6,000 lawsuits over Xarelto side effects.
Invokana has come under fire recently after the FDA strengthened its warning on the drug over the increased risk of kidney injuries. Additionally, Invokana was found to double the likelihood of amputations in patients. Invokana lawsuits are still in the very early stages, but with the drug’s popularity, these cases will likely cause the company quite a bit of trouble.
J&J’s medical devices didn’t perform quite as well, but this seems like the least of its concerns regarding medical devices. J&J and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopedics are fiercely battling lawsuits over defective Pinnacle hip implants, which are quickly shaping up to be extremely costly for the company.
While Johnson & Johnson saw overall growth this period, the near future might hold some insurmountable challenges for the company. In September, the company will face both baby powder and hip implant trials with only a brief break before more lawsuits reach trial in early 2017.