Woman awarded $29m in damages in Johnson & Johnson cancer case

Gladys Abbott
March 16, 2019

Johnson & Johnson is facing over 13,000 more cases stemming from asbestos-contaminated talcum powder. As in past cases, which the company has fought with mixed success, it said that decades of testing showed that its baby powder did not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

The company said in a statement, shared with PEOPLE, that they plan to appeal the ruling.

Studies of more than 100,000 men and woman show that talc does no cause cancer or asbestos-related disease.

An Alameda County jury in Oakland, California, held Johnson & Johnson responsible for Teresa Leavitt's mesothelioma - a cancer linked to asbestos exposure - through her use of baby powder. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they travel to the ends of small air passages and reach the membranes of the thorax and lunges.

On March 10, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation in India ordered the company to pay over Rs 74.5 lakh as compensation to a patient from Maharashtra who used faulty hip implants manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant.

Most litigants also allege that the company suppressed the health risk for many decades.

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"Hundreds of internal J&J documents showed the truth that it has been hiding for years".

Leavitt's trial originally included J&J's talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, a unit of Imerys SE, as a co-defendant.

Talc is a soft mineral that is often found with asbestos. "Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world's leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos".

Montagnino emphasized that several cases have gone in favor of Johnson and Johnson and that there have been multiple mistrials.

According to Reuters, the jury found that the products used by Leavitt were defective, and that the company had failed to warn consumers of the health risks.

On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy also took a closer look at the science that may link talc to cancer and explored the possibility of creating a law that would more closely regulate the cosmetic and personal products industry. Judge Brad Seligman, who oversaw the trial, told jurors in February the company was no longer part of the case after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of the talc litigation, which stayed lawsuits against it. Looking at the downside, it is entirely possible that the lifetime's worth of sales of Johnson's Baby Powder could be far lower than total damages over time if these cases end up going against the company.

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