Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson admitted bribing European doctors and agreed to pay $70 million in civil and criminal court, according to a recent article in The New York Times.*
The bribes were so egregious that one copy of an internal company e-mail stated that providing “cash incentives to surgeons is common knowledge in Greece,” and that, were the company to stop paying bribes, “we’d lose 95% of our business by the end of the year.”
Robert Khuzami, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s division of enforcement, said that the company tried to hide its activities by “using sham contracts, off-shore companies and slush funds.”
These heinous acts are just the most recent in a string of missteps by Johnson & Johnson, which has issued more than 50 product recalls since the start of last year involving such household brands as Tylenol®, Motrin®, Rolaids®, and Benadryl®. It also recalled two popular hip implants that a recent study suggested might fail soon after surgery in close to half of the patients who received them.
“We are deeply disappointed by the unacceptable conduct that led to these violations,” said William C. Weldon, Johnson and Johnson’s chairman and chief executive, said.