Court orders company to pay $4.7bln after talc products found to cause ovarian cancer
Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a court to pay $4.7 billion in compensation to 22 women after it was discovered that the company’s talc products had caused their cancer.
The US pharmaceutical behemoth Johnson & Johnson was forced to pay out $4.69bln (£3.57 billion) in damages after losing a lawsuit representing 22 women and their families.
The suit alleged that a talc sold by the company contained asbestos and caused them to suffer cancer.
The court heard how the company, that made $76 billion in profits in 2017, has been covering-up the use of asbestos in its products “for years.”
This news is the latest victory against the world’s largest independent biotech company, with several thousand lawsuits recently been filed against J&J.
In a separate ruling in 2017, a court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to Eva Echevarria, a woman whose ovarian cancer was caused by the talc in the company’s iconic baby powder.
Telegraph reports: According to the victims’ lawyer, Mark Lanier, a jury composed of six men and six women in St Louis, Missouri, ruled in favor of the women after a six-week trial and eight hours of deliberation.
The damages include $550 million in compensation and over $4.1 billion in punitive damages.
The plaintiffs said using the talc for personal hygiene had caused ovarian cancer.
“For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products,” Lanier said in a statement.
“We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer,” he said, calling for talc to be pulled from the market.
J&J said it was “deeply disappointed in the verdict.”
In a statement, it described the trial as “a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer.”
“The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.”
The company said its talc does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, and vowed it would “pursue all available appellate remedies.”
Several similar trials have already taken place, with a Los Angeles appeals court last October dismissing a $417 million verdict against J&J, saying the complainant’s arguments were insufficient and vague.