This post was written by Aliyah Akram.
In the latest in a series of claims against Johnson & Johnson in the US a St Louis jury has ordered that the pharmaceutical company pay a total $4.69 billion to 22 women who have suffered ovarian cancer as a result of using J&J’s asbestos contaminated talcum powder. The award against both J&J and a subsidiary includes compensatory damages of $550 million and punitive damages of $4.14 billion.
The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Mark Lanier, argued that J&J had known that their ‘Baby Powder’ and ‘Shower to Shower’ products contained asbestos since at least the 1970s but had failed to disclose this to the FDA, the federal agency responsible for protecting public health in the US. Expert evidence proved that asbestos fibres entered the body when talcum powder was inhaled or applied. Asbestos fibres were then found in the ovarian tissue of many of the women.
Another 9,000 cases are currently being pursued where it is alleged that asbestos contaminated talc has caused either ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Unsurprisingly Johnson & Johnson have made it clear that they plan to appeal this judgment.