From 1993 to 1998, pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson made over one billion dollars in sales from Propulsid, a prescription heart burn medication, even as the company knew that hundreds of patients were dying from side effects. The Federal Drug Administration and the company were receiving reports of people who developed heart problems after taking the medication. Children were at particular risk, and federal regulators advised that they would not approve the drug for pediatric sales.
While Johnson & Johnson agreed not to market Propulsid directly to children because of their increased risk of side effects, the company did use educational efforts advocating the drug’s use in pediatric patients. The educational efforts have the effect of side stepping the agreement not to market to children. Evidence showed that Johnson & Johnson knew that 90% of the company’s cherry-flavored liquid Propulsid went to children, even though the company claimed it was aimed at geriatric patients.
In all, at least three hundred people died and as many as thousands were injured by Propulsid. The Civil Justice system played a major role in bringing the facts of Johnson & Johnson’s questionable marketing practices to light. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay approximately $90 million in restitution to injured patients and the families of those who were killed. The sale of Propulsid has now been discontinued in the United States.
Source: American Association of Justice Website – www.justice.org
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