Johnson & Johnson hit with $29.4 million verdict in talcum powder case

US Johnson & Johnson asked to pay $29 million to cancer patient who used its talcum powder

Johnson & Johnson had refuted allegations that the product causes cancer. | Reuters file

It's the first defeat since a Missouri jury ordered the company previous year to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who blamed their cancer on the product.

Wednesday's verdict, in California superior court in Oakland, marks the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. J&J has pledged to appeal cases it has lost and has convinced courts to overturn several jury verdicts so far.

The Oakland jury of five men and seven women ordered J&J to pay $29 million in actual damages for Leavitt's injuries after finding that J&J's handling of the asbestos-laced baby powder was a "substantial contributing factor" in her cancer's development.

A United States jury on Wednesday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million (Rs 202 crore) to a woman diagnosed with cancer, who alleged that the asbestos in the firm's talcum-powder-based products caused her disease, Reuters reported.

The panel found J&J responsible for 78 percent of Leavitt's award and its consumer products unit is on the hook for 20 percent.

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The company said it would appeal, citing "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" during the trial, saying lawyers for the woman had fundamentally failed to show its baby powder contains asbestos. In December past year, the company reiterated the safety of its products as a slew of drug regulators around the world such as the US FDA and India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) analysed samples of J&J products.

Terry Leavitt said she regularly used two talc-based Johnson & Johnson products in the 1960s and '70s.

The company has insisted that its talc-based products are demonstrably safe. "The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception and concealment by J&J". A company executive in the 1970s warned that J&J's talc mines might not be free of asbestos.

The US Food and Drug Administration had commissioned a study of a variety of talc samples, including Johnson & Johnson's, from 2009 to 2010.

Nonetheless, 2018 investigations from the New York Times and Reuters suggested that the company feared for decades that some of its Baby Powder could be tainted by asbestos, a type of carcinogenic mineral that has been linked to cancers of lungs, larynx and ovaries, as well as mesothelioma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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