By Adam W. Pittman on December 20, 2018
A Missouri judge on Wednesday upheld a verdict ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $4.69 billion in a lawsuit involving 22 women and their families who claimed the company’s talc-based products, including its baby powder, contain asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
The women and their families said decades-long use of baby powder and other talc products caused their diseases. They allege the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos since at least the 1970s but failed to warn consumers about the risks.
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The jury found the company’s talc-based products had caused the women’s cancer, awarding $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages to all plaintiffs. The verdict is the largest that J&J has faced to date over allegations that its talc-based products cause cancer.
Johnson & Johnson Exposed by Reuters Asbestos Investigation
According to a new investigative report from Reuters, Johnson & Johnson knew that its baby powder talc supply contained asbestos as early as 1971.
Internal documents show that the healthcare company sold talc powder, primarily used as baby powder on infants and for women’s personal hygiene, that it knew was tainted with carcinogenic asbestos for decades and purposely kept it from regulators and the public.
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The pharmaceutical company is battling some 10,000 talcum powder cases across the country. The majority of the lawsuits claim that the talc itself caused ovarian cancer, but a smaller number of cases allege that contaminated talc caused mesothelioma, a tissue cancer closely linked to asbestos exposure. However, these harmful products remain on the shelf.
- Reuters – Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder
- Fast Company – Report: Johnson & Johnson knew its baby powder had asbestos for decades
- New York Times – Johnson & Johnson Loses Bid to Overturn a $4.7 Billion Baby Powder Verdict