Johnson & Johnson's reputation plummets in wake of opioid lawsuit settlement

Johnson & Johnson's public reputation is nearly at rock bottom of a new global ranking of the pharma industry, according to reputation intelligence company alva.

Johnson & Johnson's reputation has taken a hit over negative press linked to the opioid epidemic in the US. (Photo: Getty Images)
Johnson & Johnson's reputation has taken a hit over negative press linked to the opioid epidemic in the US. (Photo: Getty Images)

Johnson & Johnson: The alva Reputation Case Study reports that the pharma company has seen its reputation drop steadily from 9th place to 57th out of 58 companies since 2014.

Alva puts the fall down to a perceived failure to put ‘doctors, nurses, patients, and mothers and fathers’ first, in a month that saw the pharma giant agree to pay two Ohio counties a total of $20m in lawsuits over its role in the opioid epidemic.

It revealed that media and social media discussion has increasingly focused on concerns over the safety of Johnson & Johnson’s products. Terms such as ‘danger’, ‘harm’, ‘unsafe’, ‘unethical’, and ‘mislead’ have more than doubled in media and social media discussions of the company since 2016.

Alastair Pickering, chief strategy officer at alva, pointed to Johnson & Johnson’s unusual positioning in the sector as a branded house with its own brand promise, or credo, to put customers before shareholders.

"So far, we have seen clear evidence that J&J’s reputation has been negatively affected by the issues it is facing. The key risk beyond the lawsuits and settlement costs is clearly the erosion of the company's brand promise."

He added: "So, the very visibility of the brand - the halo effect that has served the company so well over the decades - may actually now work to undermine it."

Pickering warned that investors and business leaders may start to vote with their wallets if negative consumer perceptions persist.

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