Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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J&J Was Alerted to Risk of Asbestos in Talc in ’70s, Files Show

J&J Was Alerted to Risk of Asbestos in Talc in ’70s, Files Show | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Johnson & Johnson trained its employees to reassure anyone concerned about whether the company’s talcum powder contained asbestos that the cancer-causing substance “has never been found and it never will’’ in its iconic baby powder, according to an undated memo unsealed in a lawsuit against the drugmaker.

 

But plaintiffs say other unsealed documents indicate that J&J has known for decades that its talc products include asbestos fibers and that the exposure to those fibers can cause ovarian cancer. The talc used by J&J to make its products “is not now, nor has it ever been, free from asbestos and asbestiform fibers,’’ according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 50 women in St. Louis.

 

The unsealed documents add another dimension to the claims against J&J as it defends itself from more than 5,000 suits across the U.S. blaming its baby powder products for causing women to develop ovarian cancer. While five juries have ruled against J&J, the company has won one case and had some other claims thrown out.

 

 

One of the documents unsealed Sept. 6 indicates that in May 1974, an official at J&J’s Windsor mine in Vermont recommended “the use of citric acid in the depression of chrysotile asbestos’’ from talc extracted from the site.

 

“The use of these systems is strongly urged by this writer to provide protection against what are currently considered to be materials presenting a severe health hazard and are potentially present in all talc ores in use at this time,’’ the mine’s director of research and development wrote then.

 

Documents provided by J&J show tests of its talc stretching back to at least 1972 found no traces of asbestos, though the two minerals often occur naturally near each other. In a 1983 worldwide study of its talc products, the drugmaker found “all talcs in this report were found to be free from asbestiform minerals and to conform to cosmetic talc requirements.”

 

Further Reading:

  • “J&J Bites the Talc-powder Dust in Another Trial - Ordered to Pay $110 Million”; http://sco.lt/6E8DnV
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J&J Bites the Talc-powder Dust in Another Trial - Ordered to Pay $110 Million

J&J Bites the Talc-powder Dust in Another Trial - Ordered to Pay $110 Million | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Johnson & Johnson on Thursday was ordered by a Missouri jury to pay over $110 million to a Virginia woman who says she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using of its talc-based products for feminine hygiene.

 

The verdict in state court in St. Louis was the largest so far to arise out of about 2,400 lawsuits accusing J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of talc-based products including its well-known Johnson's Baby Powder.

 

Many of those lawsuits are pending in St. Louis, where the J&J has faced four prior trials, three of which resulted in $197 million verdicts against J&J and a talc supplier.

 

Thursday's verdict came in a lawsuit against J&J and talc supplier Imerys Talc by Lois Slemp, a resident of Virginia who is currently undergoing chemotherapy after her ovarian cancer initially diagnosed in 2012 returned and spread to her liver.

 

Slemp claimed she developed cancer after four decades of using talc-containing products produced by J&J, including J&J's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder.

 

The jury awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages and said J&J was 99 percent at fault while Imerys was just 1 percent. It awarded punitive damages of $105 million against J&J and $50,000 against Imerys.

 

Reuters watched the verdict through Courtroom View Network, which broadcast it online.

 

"Once again we've shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America," Ted Meadows, a lawyer for Slemp and other plaintiffs, said in a statement.

 

J&J in a statement said it sympathized with women impacted by ovarian cancer but planned to appeal.

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