Johnson & Johnson Beleaguered By Covid Vaccine Woes And Anger Over CEO Compensation


Some consumers wondered if Johnson & Johnson could be trusted to produce a safe and effective vaccine before the company’s single shot remedy was rolled out. Doubt about J&J stems from its role in fueling the opioid crisis, covering up asbestos contamination in talc products, concealing the risks of pelvic mesh devices, and including formaldehyde in baby shampoo, to name a few. 

Those concerns have come home to roost. J&J has experienced several mishaps with its vaccine. There have been several instances of adverse reactions including fatal blood clots. In addition, there are reports of “breakthrough” Covid cases, in which vaccinated people still developed Covid. Furthermore, the company had to throw away millions of doses of its vaccine because of contamination. 

And to irk consumers and investors even more, the compensation of the company’s CEO Alex Gorsky has raised eyebrows. 

In the words of journalist Megan Redshaw, J&J is having a very bad month. 

At the beginning of the month, 15 million doses of J&J’s vaccine was thrown out because it was contaminated with AstraZeneca vaccine ingredients. The contamination occurred at an unapproved manufacturing plant. J&J had previously promised to deliver some 24 million doses of its single shot, which uses traditional vaccine, virus-based technology rather than the experimental mrna technology of Moderna, Pfizer. However, the contamination means J&J won’t be able to deliver on its promise. 

Then, after at least 45 people experienced adverse reactions to the shot, which were reported in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System database six J&J vaccination sites were closed. The sites were located in Colorado, Iowa, Georgia and three in North Carolina. Some counties that are administering J&J shots now recommend recipients of the injection wait 30 minutes after receiving the shot instead of 15, in case adverse reactions develop. 

J&J’s vaccine, which showed over 66% efficacy in clinical trials, has left at least one New Jersey man fighting for his life in a hospital. Despite receiving the vaccine on March 6, the man tested positive for Covid on April 1. According to Redshaw’s reporting on, the Chief Health and Science Officer for the American Medical Association, Dr. Mira Irons, said on March 26 that J&J’s COVID vaccine has “100% efficacy against hospitalization and death from the virus.”

The New Jersey man isn’t the only case of a breakthrough case. Others, including three that resulted in fatalities, were reported in Washington, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, New York, California and Minnesota.

Both the US FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are reviewing reports of rare blood clots that developed because of the J&J vaccine (as well as the AstraZeneca shot). 

The contamination of J&J shots will reduce the availability of the beleaguered company’s injections by 85%. Allegedly, the contamination occurred because of a mixup by workers at a plant used by a manufacturing partner of J&J—

Emergent BioSolutions. Emergent has been repeatedly cited by the FDA for poor quality assurance, according to the Associated Press.  

Finally, J&J CEO Alex Gorsky is due a $30 million pay package. But investors in the company are being advised to reject Gorsky’s compensation. 
According to The Defender, there’s investor scrutiny over Gorsky’s pay because J&J excluded from its calculation of stock awards to its top executives costs related to lawsuits. J&J may have to fork over $4 billion for its role in the opioid epidemic. The company also recently settled 1,000 talc powder lawsuits for $100 million, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the $2.7 billion it may have to pay 22 women who developed ovarian cancer allegedly because of asbestos contamination in talc baby powder. Despite the settlement, J&J faces over 20,000 additional talc lawsuits.

To read the full report by Megan Redshaw on, click here.


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