J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits from parties asking for billions of dollars, including its talc powder and opioid history.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been facing numerous lawsuits over its different products, including talc, hip-plants, and the blood thinner, Xarelto. In fact, there is a total of around 50,000 such cases against the company, and it has agreed to settle several of these cases, as announced over the last few months. However, if it were to settle all of the cases against it, J&J would be shelling out at least $6 billion, according to Forbes. And, the company reportedly has enough cash on hand to do so.
The breakdown of total costs tied to J&J’s lawsuits is as follows, according to Forbes: “Total cost to settle talc related lawsuits could be around $4.0 billion. There are close to 14,000 talc related lawsuits filed against the company. Total cost to settle hip-plant related lawsuits could be over $1.0 billion. There are close to 6,000 hip-plant related lawsuits filed against the company. Total cost to settle artificial hips related lawsuits could be over $800 million. There are close to 4,500 artificial related lawsuits filed against the company. Total cost to settle Xarelto related lawsuits is $775 million. There are close to 25,000 Xarelto related lawsuits filed against the company.”
Forbes indicated J&J has $14 billion in total cash on hand, and Judge Thad Balkman recently ordered the drug manufacturer to pay $572 million, agreeing with the state that it played a central role in the opioid crisis. The settlement was a far cry from what Oklahoma had originally sought, $17 billion, but Balkman felt it was enough to cover the cost of curtailing the crisis for one year. If the state had been able to recoup the total amount, it would have depleted J&J’s cash reserves.
“We would have liked to walk out of here with $17 billion, but we’ve been able to put together a billion dollars,” Oklahoma’s attorney general, Mike Hunter, said, making reference to the amount from the Johnson & Johnson judgment and previous settlements with Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals. He added, “Judge Balkman has affirmed our position that Johnson & Johnson maliciously and diabolically created the opioid epidemic in our state.”
“You can argue that there are problems with the decision. You can argue that it’s a lot less than the $17 billion [Oklahoma] asked for. But you can’t take away the fact that we now have a decision, decided by a United States court, in which a large amount of damages were given,” says Nicolas Terry, executive director of the Hall Center for Law and Health at Indiana University.
Oklahoma’s AG previously referred to J&J as the kingpin of the epidemic, “serving as a top supplier, seller and lobbyist.”
“Johnson & Johnson is a corporation under duress on a number of fronts,” added Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, an executive at the Reputation Institute, which tracks public perception of companies via surveys. He added, “It’s fair to say that the opioid trial is probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for Johnson & Johnson’s reputation. We’ve not in recent years seen Johnson & Johnson’s reputation dip as low as it’s currently tracking.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids were responsible for nearly 400,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2017, and since 2000, approximately 6,000 Oklahoma residents have had fatal opioid overdoses.