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America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker – The Huffington Post

2015-09-20

On May 20, about 100 stock analysts gathered in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to hear good news from top executives at Johnson & Johnson: The company had 10 new drugs in the pipeline that might achieve more than a billion dollars in annual sales.

For 129 years, New Brunswick has served as the headquarters of J&J, America’s seventh most valuable public company. With consumer products from Band-Aids to baby powder, Neutrogena to Rogaine, Listerine to Visine, Aveeno to Tylenol and Sudafed to Splenda, Johnson & Johnson is the biggest and, according to multiple surveys, most admired corporation in the world’s most prosperous industry—healthcare.

But the real money—about 80 percent of its revenue and 91 percent of its profit—comes not from those consumer favorites, but from Johnson & Johnson’s high-margin medical devices: artificial hips and knees, heart stents, surgical tools and monitoring devices; and from still higher-margin prescription drugs targeting Crohn’s disease (Remicade), cancer (Zytiga, Velcade), schizophrenia (Risperdal), diabetes (Invokana), psoriasis (Stelara), migraines (Topamax), heart disease (Xarelto) and attention deficit disorder (Concerta).

via America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker – The Huffington Post.

This is the beginning of a 58,000 word document that lays bare Johnson and Johnson’s crooked doings.

Johnson and Johnson had sales of $30 billion dollars; compared to that, the fine of $2 billion levied by the federal government for misrepresenting the effects of Risperdal was manageable.   Johnson and Johnson profits make the $100 million that will be made from jacking up the price of a drug that only gets 10,000 prescriptions a year seem like small time money.

The medical industry is enormous and enormously profitable.  The medicines sold don’t always do what they are advertised to do.  There is something ugly about the prime time television commercials for Johnson and Johnson’s drugs.  What right does a pharmaceutical company have to advertise drugs that consumers can’t directly buy and thereby put pressure on practicing physicians to prescribe?  How can a patient judge what medicine is best for her condition?

The solution to these problems is a vastly strengthened FDA, to regulate the drug companies and reduce the excessive profit-taking that occurs daily, not to mention the drugs that are known to be ineffective or unsafe.  There is no private solution that can stand up to $30 billion in sales a year.  Only the government can develop the power to regulate this vast industry, and only with a restriction on lobbying.

A perfect example of what is wrong with the present system is President Obama’s nominee for FDA chief, a cardiologist who is accustomed to working closely with the drug industry in the research laboratory as well as clinically.  This nominee’s potential conflicts of interest ran to twenty pages on his last published paper.  It would be hard to find someone more in bed with the drug industry than this man.  That demonstrates Obama’s obligations to drug lobbyists; the ACA demonstrated his obligation to health insurance lobbyists.  There is no politician, whether Democrat or Republican, who is not in the pockets of any number of lobbyists who have paid for the campaign and expect recompense.

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