By Nicholas Freudenberg, Founder, Corporations and Health Watch
Readers of Corporations and Health Watch are familiar with the argument that the corporate practices that harm health are for the most part perfectly legal. However, recent media coverage of the scandals at Volkswagen and Johnson & Johnson led me to ask why some businesses choose to break the law. In the first, documented thoroughly in Steven Brill’s 15 chapter “docuserial” America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker posted last month on the Huffington Post Highline, the drug and medical device maker Johnson and Johnson (J&J) promoted Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug approved by the FDA for treating schizophrenia to children and older people for a much wider set of indications than those approved by the FDA. In 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to settle accusations that it improperly promoted Risperdal.