Imagine being paid to be both part of the problem and part of the solution. It would be like having someone pay you to open a bottle of red wine and pour it all over their white carpet. Then they pay you to steam-clean it, too.
Seems silly, but that’s essentially what’s going on with many modern-day pharmaceutical companies. People are paying for products that are making them sick. Then, the same company that produced that product offers another product to treat the problems they caused. Pharmaceutical companies are double-dipping into consumers’ pockets by treating diseases brought about by their own products.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is a multinational corporation that owns more than 250 subsidiaries, one of which is Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Among many other products, Johnson & Johnson markets and sells talcum-based baby powder, which has been linked to ovarian cancer. They have been sued by more than 5,500 women who claimed the talcum powder products caused the development of their ovarian cancer. When many medical studies — going back as far as 1971 — connected talcum powder use to a higher risk of cancer, many baby powder manufacturers issued warnings to their customers. However, Johnson & Johnson failed to take action.
Well, good news — sort of. For those suffering from ovarian cancer, the aforementioned Janssen Pharmaceuticals, owned by Johnson & Johnson, manufactures Doxil, a widely used ovarian cancer chemotherapy drug. The cancer patient can expect to pay somewhere around $2,758 per 25 ml dose. Considering the recommended dose is 50 ml for a minimum of four rounds of treatment, this drug treatment could add up to more than $22,064.
It’s a huge profit margin on Johnson & Johnson’s part. Sell cheap talcum powder products which can cause cancer, then reap the benefits of overpriced treatment for the unfortunate victims. You get sick. They line their pockets by causing it — and even more by treating it.
MacAndrews & Forbes
MacAndrews & Forbes owns manufacturer Merisant and pharmaceutical company vTv Therapeutics. These two companies appear to be contributing to and attempting to solve a problem, respectively.
Merisant markets and sells some of the most recognized sugar alternatives, including Equal and Canderel. The main ingredient in both sweeteners is aspartame, which has been known to cause a wide array of health risks. Aspartame has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
vTv Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company. Guess what they manufacture and market? Therapeutic treatments for illnesses — including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes. They’re getting even more bang for the buck than Johnson & Johnson, as aspartame is linked to not just cancer, but many other diseases as well.
How could this possibly be legal?
Calling Out Corruption
Pharmaceutical companies have paid out more than $19 billion under the federal and state False Claims Acts (FCA). Pharmaceutical companies have been convicted of fraudulent pricing and billing and illegal marketing schemes.
The concept of whistleblowing was created to persuade people with information on illicit activity to come forward without fear of prosecution. Whistleblowers within companies are protected from prosecution under the FCA. In 2013, two whistleblowers from Johnson & Johnson alerted the government to illegal activity. The employees were concerned that Johnson & Johnson was marketing its drug Risperdal for unapproved off-market use. The claim resulted in a more than $1.2 billion FCA settlement and an $800 million settlement in a subsequent criminal investigation.
While that sounds like a lot of money, many believe it is just the tip of the iceberg, as fraud and shady activity runs rampant in the pharmaceutical industry. Think about how much wrongdoing has gone unreported, undetected and unprosecuted. The pharmaceutical companies have the potential to make so much money that they are willing to break the law to get it, and they seem to have no problem putting the consumer at risk.
We can’t always depend on the government to help us. And when they do, it may be too late for many people.
We have to live our lives, and most of the time, we have no choice but to trust our government agencies whether we want to or not. We can’t be at every border inspecting meat, produce and other products. We aren’t allowed aboard shipping boats arriving from China to inspect their contents. What would we find if we did, anyway? Most of us aren’t informed enough to challenge the findings of government scientists.
We can only try to help ourselves by staying informed. If you’re looking to purchase a new health or beauty product, look it up online to see if there are any consumer alerts. Some alerts may apply only to your specific condition or allergy. If you are using a product and you have a negative reaction, report it to the company or to whichever consumer safety organization you think would be most helpful.
We can also boycott companies like Johnson & Johnson, who appear to have been reckless with women’s health. They taught us “a sprinkle a day keeps odor away,” when they knew we might also get cancer out of that deal.
Without your money, these companies have no reason to make anything. And considering the resulting health problems, it’s up to you to stay informed and to make decisions accordingly.