Court revives J&J Whistleblower lawsuit

Former Johnson & Johnson executive claims he was fired for whistleblowing about product safety – he warned management 15 years ago that Ortho-Evra was dangerous.

A three-judge appellate panel in New Jersey has overturned the dismissal of a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit filed against J&J and its subsidiary Ethicon by Joel S. Lippman. The former Ethicon vice president of clinical trials claims he was terminated in 2006 for raising concerns about the safety and efficacy of several products, including the Ortho-Evra birth control patch.

His former employers tell a very different story. They claim that Lippman was fired for having a romantic relationship with a coworker. However, in its opinion, the court concluded that there were “sufficient material issues of fact in dispute” that should be resolved by a jury.

That means it will be left to a jury to decide whether J&J actually fired Lippman for his office romance or if the allegations were simply a pretext to fire him for being uncooperative. You can read the complete 51-page decision here.

Dangerous drugs: profits over safety

In his suit, Lippmann alleges that J&J and its subsidiary were callously indifferent to safety concerns he raised regarding various products and in some cases, the pharmaceutical giant delayed or even declined to recall dangerous products that presented “an unreasonable risk of substantial harm.”

In 1999, Lippman objected to the launching and marketing of the Ortho-Evra birth control patch because of data that showed an increasing amount patients were experiencing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots, due to the estrogen dosage in the patch. After his allegations, Lippman was transferred to another subsidiary and given a substantial raise. Despite his concerns, J&J launched Ortho-Evra in 2002 using attractive models in a high profile ad campaign.

The lawsuit also describes how J&J repeatedly ignored Lippman’s advice on other new drugs and medical devices and circumvented the medical board’s recommendations due to financial concerns over expiring patents.

Thousands of women have filed Ortho-Evra Claims

In the 15 years since Lippman first warned management about Ortho-Evra, complaints have be filed on behalf of over 4,000 women who say they were harmed by patch. Women using Ortho-Evra claimed it caused DVT, blood clots in the lungs, strokes, and heart attacks. The patch has also been blamed for more than 20 deaths.

The drug injury attorneys at Elk & Elk have helped several clients in Ohio with Ortho-Evra-related claims, including complications from blood clots, and unfortunately, death. In 2008, court records revealed that J&J had spent over $68 million to settle the birth-control claims.

Other birth control methods, such as the Mirena Intrauterine Device and NuvaRing have also been linked to increased health risks.

If you have been harmed by a dangerous drug or medical device, fill just fill out our online contact form or call 1-800 –ELK-OHIO to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

“J&J Watchdog Employee Can Proceed With Retaliation Lawsuit” by Ed Silverman, PharmaLive.com, September 9, 2013.

“J&J Paid $68 Million to Settle Birth-Control Cases” by David Voreacos, Bloomberg News, October 10, 2008.

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