Has Johnson & Johnson seen the light?
Earlier this month, the pharmaceutical giant was finally convinced that it was in their best interest to sever ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a “non-profit” organization that according to its 2009 IRS Form 990 (“Return of an Organization Exempt From Income Tax”), exists to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty, through a non-partisan, public-private partnership between America's legislators and [the private sector].”
Okay...but if you have done your homework by visiting citizen media websites online, watching MSNBC or listening to radio talk shows such Ring of Fire Radio, The Ed Schultz Show and other intelligent alternatives to FAUX News, you understand that ALEC's primary mission is to buy favorable legislation on behalf of global corporations and the top 1% - which invariably hurts all the rest of us.
ALEC, founded in 1972, has been operating in the shadows until it was recently “outed” by the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine. Since then, corporate members of the organization have been leaving in droves, due to exposure and public outcry and boycott threats.
As of April of this year, one major corporation – Johnson & Johnson, parent company of DePuy Orthopaedics (manufacturer of MoM hip replacements) and Ethicon (maker of pelvic slings) – had stubbornly refused to give up its membership. This, despite the bad publicity over its products and the injury litigation these products were generating.
Things are changing over at J&J, however. On 12 June, the company finally announced that it would no longer fund ALEC. The decision comes in the wake of a concerted advertising campaign by the civile rights group Color of Change, the objective of which was to pressure J&J to leave the organization. It is is a major victory for the American people – and an equally major defeat for ALEC. J&J was one of ALEC's “top corporate members,” and in addition held a seat on the organization's “private enterprise board.”
Ironically, a spokesperson for J&J was quoted in a New Jersey paper, saying that the company “[does not] condone legislative proposals that could serve, even inadvertently, to limit the rights or impact the safety of any individual.” (Keep in mind that ALEC is the force behind the “Stand Your Ground” laws and the voter suppression legislation that has spread across the country like a malignant tumor.)
On the heels of its decision to leave ALEC, J&J has made a decision to pull its pelvic mesh products from the market. According to various news articles and reports, J&J will “phase out four mesh products over the next three to nine months.”
J&J continues to insist that the product is “safe.” In a statement, the company said the decision to discontinue selling the devices was based on their “commercial viability in light of changing market dynamics.” In plain English, nobody's buying it anymore. J&J also emphasizes that it is not a product recall.
In January, the FDA ordered J&J and other manufacturers of pelvic mesh devices (Boston Scientific, Covidien, CR Bard Inc. and American Medical Systems) to conduct “rigorous studies” in order to “track the complication rates with their products” – an expensive proposition. J&J is confident that with the discontinuation of sales, such studies will no longer be required.
J&J and the other manufacturers of these devices still face a small army of injury plaintiffs, however – and this is most likely the primary reason for phasing out pelvic mesh sales.
American Legislative Exchange Council. “IRS Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, 2009.” Available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/51770890/ALEC-s-2009-IRS-Form-990 .
Chesseman, Gina-Marie. “Johnson & Johnson Latest Company to Break Away From ALEC.” Triple Pundit, 18 June 2012.
Editorial Board. “Johnson & Johnson Right To Pull Out of ALEC.” Newark Star-Ledger, 13 June 2012.
Ho, Connie K. “Discontinued Sales of J&J Vaginal Mesh Products.” Red Orbit, 6 June 2012. Available at http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112549066/discontinued-sales-of-jj-vaginal-mesh-products/ .
McLellan, Steve. “J&J Ends Support For ALEC Lobby.” Media Daily News, 20 June 2012.
Perrone, Matthew. “J&J To Stop Selling Pelvic Mesh Tied to Lawsuits.” Businessweek, 5 June 2012.
Rizzo, Salvatore. “Johnson & Johnson Becomes First NJ Company to Part Ways With ALEC. NJ.com, 12 June 2012. Available at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/06/johnson_johnson_becomes_first.html .