Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has been asked to pay a fine of close to $4.7 billion in a lawsuit filed by 22 women who alleged that the company’s baby talcum powder contained asbestos which led to them developing ovarian cancer. The verdict, which included $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages, is claimed to be the largest one of its kind thus far.
The petitioners’ side claimed that the asbestos entered the women’s bodies through the daily use of the tainted talcum powder and led to them being diagnosed with cancer. Some of them eventually died. The plaintiffs blamed the company for not issuing sufficient warnings that its products posed cancer risks.
J&J is disappointed with the verdict and plans to appeal it while terming the process that led to the decision as unfair from the start. J&J, which has been facing over 9,000 lawsuits related to its talcum powder, continues to maintain that its baby powder does not contain asbestos and is safe for usage. The pharma giant has managed to get several jury verdicts repealed, including two in Los Angeles and Missouri in the recent past.
Johnson & Johnson believes its products do not need to carry any warnings as there was no sufficient scientific evidence to prove any link between its talcum powder and cancer. Around 8 years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) studied various samples of J&J’s talcum powder and failed to find any traces of asbestos in them. The petitioners’ side called the studies flawed and inaccurate.
J&J has faced several lawsuits, inquiries and recalls over many of its other products and it plans to tackle each of its talcum-powder trials on a case-by-case basis. The stock dropped 1% after-market.