Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay record $4.7bn damages over talc cancer lawsuit

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Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $four.7bn (£three.6bn) to 22 ladies who allege the corporate’s merchandise precipitated them to develop ovarian most cancers.

A Missouri jury handed down the largest-ever damages invoice confronted by the pharmaceutical large on Thursday, in relation to claims its talc merchandise include asbestos and trigger most cancers.

In an announcement, the corporate known as the trial “essentially unfair” and stated it could attraction the decision, which comprised of $550m in compensatory damages and greater than $four.1bn in in punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson is battling some 9,000 lawsuits involving talc merchandise, together with claims surrounding its signature child powder, however denies they trigger most cancers or have ever contained asbestos. 

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Its shares dropped by $1.31 (£1) to $126.45 (£96.16) in after-hours buying and selling following the punitive damages award.

The jury’s resolution got here after greater than 5 weeks of testimony by almost a dozen consultants on either side.

Girls who introduced the case declare decades-long use of talc merchandise precipitated their ailments and allege the corporate knew its merchandise had been contaminated since at the very least the 1970s with out performing.

“Johnson & Johnson is deeply upset within the verdict, which was the product of a essentially unfair course of,” the corporate stated in an announcement.

“Each verdict in opposition to Johnson & Johnson on this court docket that has gone by way of the appeals course of has been reversed and the a number of errors current on this trial had been worse than these within the prior trials which have been reversed.”

Talc, the world’s softest rock, is a mineral intently linked to asbestos and the 2 substances can seem in shut proximity within the earth.

Plaintiffs declare the 2 can turn into intermingled within the mining course of, making it unattainable to take away the carcinogenic substance, a suggestion Johnson & Johnson refutes. 

Mark Lanier, the lawyer for the ladies, known as for the corporate to drag its talc merchandise from the market in an announcement following the decision; “earlier than inflicting additional anguish, hurt, and loss of life from a horrible illness.”

“If J&J insists on persevering with to promote talc, they need to mark it with a severe warning,” Mr Lanier added.

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The vast majority of the lawsuits confronted by Johnson & Johnson contain claims talc itself precipitated ovarian most cancers, however a smaller quantity additionally allege contaminated talc precipitated mesothelioma, a tissue most cancers intently linked to asbestos publicity.

The company denies these allegations, saying rigorous testing and purification processes guarantee its talc is clear.

Punitive damages are sometimes diminished later both by judges or on attraction and Johnson & Johnson has efficiently overturned talc verdicts prior to now in attraction courts.

Earlier talc trials have produced verdicts as massive as $417m (£317m), however that 2017 verdict by a California jury was later overturned, as was one other verdict in Missouri, whereas challenges to at the very least one other 5 verdicts are pending.

Further reporting by Reuters

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