In 1962 there was an outbreak of infant deaths in a hospital in upstate New York. They isolated the cause to the baby formula being used to feed the infants. There were other examples of dangerous baby formula and I read that there was another formula scare not long ago. I don’t want to debate the relative value of breast-feeding versus using nutritious, chemically balanced artificial baby formula, but rather to look at what corporate America does with the tainted formula after the Federal government forces the company to recall their product.
This isn’t limited to baby formula. In fact, the recent news of the redistribution of faulty hip-joint replacements that the Federal government forced the company to recall is what prompted my thinking on this subject. I clearly remember one instance of recalled baby formula that was missing an important nutrient and was therefore unsalable in the United States. What did corporate American do with a product that might cause further infant deaths? Well, they packed it all up and shipped it over to Africa where it could be sold without the restrictions and oversight of the Federal government. I expect protecting profits was more important to this company than was protecting lives.
The current news is about defective hip replacements. This one seems dicey since a Federally mandated recall of defective hip replacements might result in a great deal of pain for a large number of older people. However, I believe the problem is a leakage of a nasty metal by-product into the blood system so it isn’t like deciding to live with a hip replacement that squeaks too much: it could lead to some more serious problems, even death. But while I was worrying about the logistics of these recalled hip replacements, what was Johnson & Johnson doing? Yes, they’ve been shipping the rejected hip replacements overseas and selling them as the good stuff from America; that way they can get a little more profit. Do you suspect they made it clear that the United States Federal government forced them to recall this product and they can no longer sell it in America?
Without a strong Federal government, the corporations will take advantage of people, even causing pain and death, just to make a tidy profit. So the two lessons are: you need strong Federal government oversight and corporations are not your friends.
Does it strike you that this is just the opposite of the conservative Republican mantra which sees a weak, limited Federal government and unrestricted corporations as the direction for the country? If you believe this you probably thought Johnson & Johnson was up-front about the rejected hip replacements with the unsuspecting clients in less-fortunate countries.