Time was that Johnson & Johnson was “the most trusted brand in America.”
That, of course was before decades of dismantled regulations, endless mergers and acquisitions, the profitization of medical care put on steroids, psychopathic greed and the quest for maximum profit at any and all costs – including human health and life. Between its DePuy division, which manufactures hip replacements now known to be defective, its Ethicon subsidiary, which makes the pelvic slings that have been disabling women who have them implanted, the anti-psychotic drug Risperdol, known to cause a condition called “tardive diskinesia” – and now, its venerable over-the-counter analgesic, Tylenol, from J&J's McNeil Laboratories – now strongly implicated in liver damage, it is a wonder than any American who is even dimly aware of this corporate behemoth's liabilities would buy so much as an aspirin from them.
Tylenol originated in the 1950s as an alternative to aspirin (made from willow bark), which can irritate the stomach lining in some patients. By the 1960s, it was the top-selling pain killer in the U.S. While the patent on the active ingredient in Tylenol is long expired and generic versions are common, Johnson & Johnson's marketing department has been hard at work over the decades, convincing the American people that their own proprietary product is somehow “better” than the others. (Drug marketing and advertising – which is forbidden by law in every nation on earth except New Zealand and the U.S. - accounts for a huge percentage of the mark-up on pharmaceutical products, which in some cases is as much as 20,000%!)
The ingredient in Tylenol that is responsible for liver damage is acetaminophen. It has long been known that people who abuse Tylenol often suffer from liver damage brought on by the toxicity of this substance – as do those who concurrently abuse alcohol or take other medications with this ingredient at the same time. Of course, as recently reported on Ring Of Fire radio, what J&J hasn't been telling people is that anyone taking Tylenol runs the risk of liver damage – and their executives have been aware of this fact for years.
The medical term is hepatoxicity. It is not acetaminophen itself that causes the damage, but rather, one of its enzymes, or metabolites. Medical scientists identify this molecule as NAPQI. This enzyme robs the liver of a natural antioxidant, known as glutathione, which normally protects liver cells from damage caused by certain oxygen molecules called “free radicals.” (Consider the way iron rusts when it reacts with oxygen. This is roughly comparable to what happens to cells in a living body when free radicals are not kept in check.)
In the meantime, the multi-billion dollar New Jersey-based pharmaceutical firm, already beset with lawsuits on three sides, now faces a fourth front in its legal battles. According to a New Jersey newspaper, J&J is facing fourteen legal actions on ground of “failure to warn” consumers. Initially, these lawsuits were filed separately, but J&J's legal representatives have requested that all cases be “centralized” before a new judge – in the company's home town of New Brunswick. One of the company's lawyers said such a move would “provide the prudent venue” for the impending litigation.
While it may be true that the Honorable Judge Carol Higbee – currently assigned to hear the case – already has a great deal on her judicial plate, the main reason for the request that J&J is a big “job creator” in New Brunswick, and – according to defense lawyer Henry Klingeman, “provides a positive image in the area...[which] can all be used to an advantage when picking a jury.”
Chan, Amanda. “Painful Confusion: Americans Don't Know What's in Popular Painkillers.” LiveScience.com, 3 May 2011.
Friedman, Alexi. “Johnson & Johnson Seeks Home Court Advantage in Tylenol Liver Damage Lawsuits. ”Star-Ledger, 9 June 2013.
Mehta, Sweety. “Metabolism of Paracetamol (Acetaminophen), Acetanilide and Phenacetin.” PharmaChange.info, 25 August 2012.
Learn more about Tylenol lawsuits