Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has ben hit with several multimillion dollar verdicts so far this year in cases related to its talcum powder products and defective hip implants, but the worst might be yet to come. Consumer perception of the company has plummeted the last few years, and 2016 is gearing up to be their worst year yet.
The studies linking talcum powder use to ovarian cancer stirred outrage in many women when internal documents from J&J revealed that the company knew about the risk as early as the 1980s, but failed to warn consumers or change its product to make it safer. While J&J continues to stand by the safety of its baby powder products, two juries have already disagreed, and it seems likely that more trials will at the very least continue to drag J&J’s brand through the mud, if not cost the company millions.
If J&J’s brand image problems stopped at baby powder, it would still have a catastrophic impact on the brand, but talcum powder isn’t the only product J&J is under fire for. A Texas jury awarded five plaintiffs a total of $502 million over defective metal-on-metal hip implants manufactured by J&J and its subsidiary, DePuy Orthopedics. With more than 8,900 additional lawsuits pending over hip implants, this massive verdict could foreshadow colossal financial damages for the company.
Additionally, J&J is waiting for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to decide whether or not punitive damages will be allowed in lawsuits regarding the company’s antipsychotic, Risperdal. This decision will come just three years after the company agreed to pay $2.2 billion for improperly marketing and failing to warn the public of Risperdal side effects.
These lawsuits only scratch the surface of J&J’s problems. With additional lawsuits for other dangerous drugs and defective medical devices, consumers are quickly losing trust in the company, and who can blame them? It’s unclear if or how the company will be able to rebuild trust with consumers, but it’ll take more than clever advertising.