You might not know it, but my idea of a good time is lying around digesting after a barbeque. Or spending the day at the beach with my family. Not creating a petition, asking total strangers to sign it, asking pointed questions of a corporation on Twitter, or otherwise trying to fix things I believe shouldn’t be broken in the first place. Call me a reluctant activist.
But here I am again, asking you to think about Mother’s Day differently. We recently launched a petition telling Johnson and Johnson that their support for the American Legislative Exchange Council is downright unhealthy for our families. And they should stop.
Are you like me, tired of feeling like a few cents out of every dollar that I pay to company goes to support something that’s against my values? How about no lobbying for “kill at will” gun laws, like the one that enabled George Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon Martin dead? How about ending support for voter ID laws that disproportionately suppress women’s votes? How about not making over-the-counter medicines or medical supplies that required 25 recalls in 2 years?
Johnson and Johnson should stop funding ALEC. They should focus on making their health products trustworthy. If they did, they wouldn’t have to set aside $3 billion in profits to cover the cost of lawsuits they’re facing for selling harmful medical products. Quit meddling in government affairs that are none of their business.
Because when J&J releases a bacteria-filled children’s Tylenol or a dangerously deteriorating metal hip replacement, IT CREATES NEEDLESS WORRY AND HEARTBREAK IN WOMEN’S LIVES. Someone has to monitor who’s taking what medication. Someone has to take time off from work to help grandma (or whoever) have that faulty hip replaced, or to wrestle with the insurance company over the disability that rusty metal hip causes. Here’s a timeline of the recalls. Want a fuller list of the recalls and brushes with the law? See below:
Rolaids antacids were subject to a massive voluntary recall in 2010 due to contamination with a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA). Johnson & Johnson also recalled more than 135 million units of children’s Tylenol, Benadryl, and Motrin medicines in 2010 for possible bacterial contamination and the presence of small metal parts.
In 2010, Johnson & Johnson’s then-CEO, William Weldon, was called before Congress after regulators learned that the company had also engaged in “stealth” recalls by buying up products — supplies of the pain killer, Motrin — rather than notifying the public of its need to recall defective Motrin tablets.
And, just this month, on April 10 , a jury determined that a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary had downplayed and had hidden risks associated with the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The Arkansas Attorney General is seeking fines of at least $1.1 billion for the 250,000 prescriptions of this drug that the state’s Medicaid program paid for over three and a half years. Johnson & Johnson is involved in other claims about this and other products as well.
For example, Johnson & Johnson has faced lawsuits over defective heart stents as well as hip replacement parts, the failure of which put at-risk American patients at additional risk from more surgery to address these defective medical devices. In the case of the defective hip joints, some recipients have experienced degradation of the soft tissue around the joint, leaving injured Americans unable to fully replace the defective part and instead suffering long-term disability and reduced mobility.
Johnson and Johnson has externalized the price of its greed into ugly, worrying health crises for men and women who are just trying to do their best to take care of their families. Really, Johnson and Johnson — overcharging kids with autism and adults suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder for Risperdal, and pooh-poohing the side effects, some of which are dangerous?
Prosecutors have accused Johnson & Johnson and Janssen of hiding the risks associated with Risperdal, which is approved to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and behavior problems in teenagers and children with autism. Side effects can include weight gain, an increased risk of diabetes and, in older patients, an increased risk of stroke.
“They were trumpeting it as a miracle, breakthrough drug,” said Thomas Melsheimer, a lawyer who represented the whistle-blower in the Texas Risperdal case. Instead, he said, it was no better than cheaper generic alternatives. “It was grossly overpriced in relation to its qualities.”
And it’s lobbied hard to prevent good, honest people hurt by its sloppiness from filing a lawsuit to get damages. I guess Johnson and Johnson prefers that people unlucky enough to encounter its shoddy products are just SOL.
So while Johnson and Johnson may try to send the equivalent of bouquets to moms every now and then, all I have to say is this: Flowers fade. But worry-free, healthy lives for ourselves and our children are forever.
The best gift Johnson and Johnson could give moms is to make high-quality, trustworthy products again and stop funding ALEC to dig it out of trouble.