J&J Jury Awards $4.14 Billion Punitive Damages Over Talc Cancer

14 July, 2018, 03:56 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York

The jury later added $4.1 billion (around Rs 28,100 crore) in punitive damages.

Five previous cases have been decided and Johnson & Johnson has appealed those that it lost. On Thursday, Lanier highlighted results he said showed asbestos both in talc mines and the baby powder itself.

Mr Lanier said Johnson & Johnson had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier told the jurors during closing arguments Wednesday that they were the first to see documents showing that Johnson & Johnson knew its products contained asbestos and didn't warn consumers.

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson must pay damages of $4.7 billion to a group of women who claim the company's talc products made them develop ovarian cancer, a court has ruled.

"The evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding", the company said in a statement.

The company said its talc does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, and vowed it would "pursue all available appellate remedies". Jurors in California previously ordered the company to pay $417 million, but J&J successfully appealed that decision. She said she used Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder regularly, even up until the day she went in for cancer surgery.

Johnson and Johnson baby powder.

One of the women's lawyers said that the verdict was reached following a nine-hour session and after deliberating over it for more than six weeks.

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The plaintiff's lawyer stated that J&J should pull their baby powder from the shelves "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease".

The company faces around 9,000 of these cases.

Toni Roberts, 61, believes the company's talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer, and a jury in Missouri agreed. Concerns about a link between talc and ovarian cancer started surfacing around 1971, when scientists wrote about finding talc particles embedded in ovarian and cervical tumor tissue.

"Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process", it said in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson, which is now battling some 9,000 legal cases involving its signature baby powder, said it was "deeply disappointed" and planned to appeal.

According to the American Cancer Society, the science on whether talcum causes cancer is still unclear.

But several other settlements have been affirmed with more cases pending.

Around 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United Kingdom each year, with half (53%) of cases diagnosed in women aged 65 and over. However, there are questions about whether asbestos-free talc, which is the form used in modern products, poses a similar risk, according to the association.

The UK-based ovarian cancer charity, Ovacome, produced a fact sheet on the issue.

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