You may not have heard of McNeil Consumer Healthcare. You may be more familiar with their parent company, healthcare industry behemoth Johnson & Johnson. McNeil Consumer Healthcare is a subsidiary that manufactures and sells Children’s Tylenol and Motrin products to the general public under the Johnson & Johnson umbrella. In April of 2010, McNeil issued a recall of all Children’s Tylenol and Motrin that had been contaminated with multiple kinds of metal. Investigators found that their medicines contained nickel, iron and chromium. Also found was that some of the drugs were at more powerful doses than their specifications said they contained. In addition, it has been reported that the medicines contained foreign bacteria.
It may seem downright responsible of the pharmaceutical to have issued a recall and went as far to even close the plant where the contamination occurred, outside Philadelphia, Pa., in Fort Washington, when learning of their products being tainted. Except, they didn’t do that. Turns out, the Company knew of the contamination at least as far back as May of 2009, and simply sat on their hands for almost a year, leaving contaminated medicine, a potential poison, on the shelves for unknowing consumers to give to their children, and even babies.
McNeil Consumer Pharmaceutical contends that no one was injured as a direct result of the medicine. But as many already know, sometimes such cases of injury don’t turn up for periods until well down the road, sometimes years or decades.
The court disagreed with the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary’s claims of harmlessness, and despite the guilty plea, still ordered the company to pay $25 million in a criminal settlement.
That criminal conviction was handed down yesterday in a Philadelphia court.
If you or I tainted one thing, we’d be in jail. When a company is a criminal, they get fleeced a little by the Feds. And I say “a little” because Johnson & Johnson is an extremely large multi-billion dollar giant. $25 million is a mere drop in the bucket for them. J & J, in fact, brought in almost $75 billion dollars in 2014, almost $17 billion of it pure profit. But if you want more perspective on what a slap on the wrist this is, (to potentially injure or kill infants thru negligence and cover up/inaction) the $25 million is only one-fourth of the $100 million the conglomerate is casually dropping to rehab the plant to sell more drugs from.
Think about that. If Johnson & Johnson sees it as a good investment to throw $100 million at the plant instead of selling off the property or shuttering it permanently, it surely figures to get that investment back, and then some, and probably in a short period of time. A $25 million dollar fine was pocket change. Remember when Mitt Romney said “Corporations are people?” I’ll believe that when corporate thugs like these are behind bars instead of throwing the government a little walking around money, and going on as they were.
Just another example of the growing divide between how the 1 precent deal with our justice system, basically calling the shots like a Godfather to his underlings, and how the rest of us are forced to deal with it like a pauper begs a prince.