J&J Wins Fourth Cancer Claim Lawsuit

08.03.2017 -

After losing three earlier lawsuits alleging that its talc powder caused ovarian cancer – which cost it nearly $200 million in damages – US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has won its fourth case, as a jury in St Louis, Missouri, rejected a similar claim by a vote of 11 to one.

Reports said that following the three defeats the company dismissed its previous legal team and hired new counsel who employed a new defense strategy.

In the four cases heard up to now, mostly concentrated in the states of Missouri, California and New Jersey, thousands of women have alleged that J&J for years ignored “compelling scientific evidence” showing that the powder, used in intimate applications, could travel to the ovaries and cause cancer. They charged that the company has protected its brand even as safer cornstarch-based body powders became available.

By contrast, J&J has argued that a link between the powder and ovarian cancer cannot be established. A representative of its new counsel, Bart H. Williams, told the St Louis jury that all of the studies cited by plaintiffs in cases to date have been reviewed by numerous regulatory and watchdog groups and that none supports the studies’ conclusions.

“None of the scientific agencies in America whose job it is to monitor cancer causing substances has listed talc currently as a contributor to ovarian cancer,” Williams said. J&J’s defense also argued that the plaintiff, Nora Daniels, has a genetic predisposition for cancer.

The US healthcare company still faces numerous lawsuits. More cases are scheduled for June of this year in St. Louis. As regards pending federal court cases, J&J is said to have pushed to move consolidated pretrial work to its home state of New Jersey. Some reports said that due to the amount of publicity the cases have received, the company believed it was not possible to find a jury in St Louis whose members had not already formed an opinion.

In a statement commenting on its recent victory, J&J said that while it “deeply sympathizes” with people affected by ovarian cancer, this decision was “consistent with the science, research, clinical evidence and decades of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”

Attorneys for the plaintiff, however, said they continue to maintain that the association between genital talc usage and ovarian cancer remains an issue of public health and that consumers should be warned of the specific risks.