Editors' (re)View: More lawsuits for J&J; Abortion pills as controlled substances

May 24, 2024
Pharma Manufacturing editors Karen Langhauser and Andrea Corona comment on the notable happenings in the pharma industry from the week of May 20

 More lawsuits for J&J

This week, a group of cancer patients who had previously filed lawsuits against J&J for its talc products have filed a new class action lawsuit in U.S. federal court. The plaintiffs have accused the drugmaker of “engaging in a series of fraudulent maneuvers designed to prevent cancer victims and their families from receiving fair compensation.” 

In short, J&J is being sued for how the company responded to being sued.

The suit calls out some suspect moves in J&J’s legal strategy, among them:

  • In 2021, J&J used a move called the "Texas two-step bankruptcy" whereby it created a subsidiary, LTL Management, to manage thousands of legal claims alleging its cosmetic talc caused cancer. The company tried (twice) to place it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • In 2023, J&J spun off its consumer health brand into a new independent company, Kenvue. The spinoff was then found liable in court for mesothelioma-related claims.

Last April, J&J offered up to $8.9 billion, payable over 25 years, to resolve all current and future talc claims alleging that its baby powders cause cancer.

Throughout the company's years-long legal woes surrounding its talc products, J&J has maintained that they don't cause cancer. Recently, a U.S. district judge granted the company a chance to contest the scientific evidence linking its talc products to ovarian cancer.

For J&J it doesn't seem like the issue is going away any time soon, and the recent class action just adds to the mountain of lawsuits faced by the 138-year-old company. –Karen Langhauser

Abortion pills as controlled substances?

Earlier this week, the Louisiana House approved a bill adding two medications commonly used for abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol, to the state's list of controlled dangerous substances.

The bill would make possession of these drugs without valid prescriptions a crime punishable by fines and jail time. The bill, which passed 64-29, now returns to the Senate and, if approved, will be sent to the governor. Abortion is already illegal in Louisiana, with limited exceptions.

The drugs would be classified as schedule IV controlled substances, joining medications such as benzodiazepines, sedatives, pain relievers, and stimulants. These drugs are regulated to prevent misuse and ensure safe use under medical supervision. The key point is that abortion pills have been extensively proven to be safe and non-addictive.

Under the proposed law, possessing these medications without a prescription could lead to up to five years in prison, though pregnant individuals obtaining the drugs for personal use would not be prosecuted. The bill also includes provisions to criminalize coerced abortion through fraudulent use of the medications, with severe penalties for violators.

Abortion pills and women's reproductive health have become hotly debated topics following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This radical decision has intensified discussions about access to reproductive health care, resulting in legal battles and regulatory challenges. 

The latest controversy surrounding how to approach regulations for medical abortion drugs highlights a broader struggle for reproductive rights, with drugmakers being forced to navigate the interplay of politics and advocacy to ensure women's access to safe and effective medications. — Andrea Corona



About the Author

Karen P. Langhauser | Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

Karen currently serves as Pharma Manufacturing's chief content director.

Now having dedicated her entire career to b2b journalism, Karen got her start writing for Food Manufacturing magazine. She made the decision to trade food for drugs in 2013, when she joined Putman Media as the digital content manager for Pharma Manufacturing, later taking the helm on the brand in 2016.

As an award-winning journalist with 20+ years experience writing in the manufacturing space, Karen passionately believes that b2b content does not have to suck. As the content director, her ongoing mission has been to keep Pharma Manufacturing's editorial look, tone and content fresh and accessible.

Karen graduated with honors from Bucknell University, where she majored in English and played Division 1 softball for the Bison. Happily living in NJ's famed Asbury Park, Karen is a retired Garden State Rollergirl, known to the roller derby community as the 'Predator-in-Chief.'