Every year, untold numbers of Americans suffer from complications due to toxic or poorly designed products. While it sounds like a conspiracy theory, many corporations knowingly distribute flawed products when the financial motivation is great enough. The ethical implications have often proven insufficient to keep tainted medications, contaminated food and dangerous technology from reaching the public.
For a careful consumer, the internet provides a number of resources which can prove useful to understanding product risks. For example, The American Association for Justice provides a pamphlet which outlines a number of incidents where executives were well aware of the risks inherit in their products, and yet failed to act in any way to protect their customers.
Take the example of Propulsid, a prescription heartburn medication produced by Johnson & Johnson. Between 1993 and 1998, Johnson and Johnson made over a billion dollars on this product. By early 1995, it was already apparent that this drug was related to severe heart problems in some patients, and that it posed a particular risk to children. The Food and Drug Administration received growing numbers of reports of serious heart problems within the eighteen months hat followed. Federal regulators refused to clear the drug for pediatric sales – a warning which was not made public.
Johnson & Johnson agreed not to market Propulsid to children because of the increased chance of serious side effects, however they side stepped this agreement under the guise of educational efforts. These so-called educational efforts were, in fact, nothing more than a method of directing their dangerous product at the pediatric market. Ninety percent of the companies sales of cherry flavored Propulsid went to children, a fact of which documentation would show executives were well aware.
Lawsuits on behalf of injured patients would also show that Johnson & Johnson also avoided doing studies recommended by federal regulators, and that they suppressed the results of other studies which may have warned physicians of the dangers of their drug.
Gage Stevens was a three month old admitted to Pittsburg Children’s hospital with heartburn, diarrhea, frequent crying and vomiting. A specialist there saw him and recommended Propulsid for his condition. Gage died six months later of a heart arrhythmia. He was not alone. Before Johnson & Johnson finally removed Propulsid from the market in 2000, after two years of rejecting proposed changes to the product’s warnings and marketing, three hundred people had died of Propulsid. Sixteen thousand were injured.
Among one of the Johnson & Johnson’s executives’ notes was written, “Do we want to stand in front of the world and admit we were never able to prove efficiency!”
In 2000, the FDA was no longer able to ignore the consequences of Propulsid’s use. Rather than addressing the mounting safety concerns surrounding the drug, Johnson & Johnson announced that they would no longer be selling Propulsid.
If you or a loved one has been injured by any prescription drug, contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.