Dr. Joel S. Lippman, former vice president at Johnson & Johnson is claiming in a lawsuit that he was fired for seeking recalls for several faulty products, including the Ortho Evra birth control patch – the subject of currently 1,000 product liability lawsuits.
In a civil complaint filed by Lippman he alleges that he was unlawfully terminated after working with Johnson & Johnson for over 15 years because he kept complaining repeatedly about product safety problems and urging several be recalled or not launched at all.
The suit alleges Lippman began having problems with his employer when he complained about less than favorable safety data on a hormonal menopausal product, Ortho Prefest and about serious health concerns over the Ortho Evra patch known to release dangerous levels of estrogen in patients. In September, the Food and Drug Administration began requiring J&J to add a warning to the Ortho Evra package insert stating risks of dangerous blood clots in legs and lungs might be higher for women on the patch.
In a statement made by J&J they said “Lippman was fired as a result of inappropriate conduct and mismanagement of responsibilities unrelated to allegations in the lawsuit.” The statement also said J&J will vigorously defend against the claims because the allegations are untrue. Our company remains committed to supplying quality products that yield positive patient outcomes.
As of October 1, J&J has reported approximately 1,000 claimants have filed suits or made claims alleging Ortho Evra caused injuries. Some women using Ortho Evra as birth control have died of blood clots. Medical product liability attorneys are using the internet to reach new claimants and expect more to come forward.
Attorney Ellen Relkin, who is on committees of plaintiffs lawyers overseeing both federal Ortho Evra lawsuits and those filed in New Jersey, said news of Lippman’s lawsuit will have some impact on the number of product liability suits, particularly among women who believe Ortho Evra injured them but hadn’t yet sued.
“We have millions of documents that the lawyers are reviewing that we’ve received from Johnson & Johnson (in Ortho Evra lawsuits) and we’ll take a closer look at anything involving him,” Relkin said.