A U.S. court has found in favor of a 62-year-old woman from Virginia and ordered the Johnson & Johnson company to pay $US110 million. A supplier, Imerys Talc North America, must also pay a fine of $104,000. The woman sued the company because she suffered from ovarian cancer and believed that it was caused by the body powder she had used for more than 40 years. The case was covered by several media outlets, including the BBC.
In the past year, Johnson & Johnson already lost three class-action lawsuits. The cases involved orders for $70, $52, and $55 million, significantly less that the judgement for punitive damages in the case from Virginia.
Ted Meadows, a lawyer from the Beasley Allen law firm, said that the judge’s ruling shows how Johnson & Johnson placed company profit over human beings and attempted to manipulate scientific and monitoring inspections. He said that the company must finally inform subject-matter experts and the public correctly about the risks of the product.
Johnson & Johnson has appealed the case and insists on the safety of its products. The company bases this appeal on the lack of clear scientific proof of the carcinogenic effects of the body powder. A company spokesperson from Imerys referred to findings of independent organizations, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and The Cosmetic Ingredient Review, all of which classify talcum powder as safe.
However, statements on its safety differ. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies talcum as “possibly carcinogenic.” The classification and labeling directory of the ECHA lists the talcum of only 34 of 2,564 companies in Category 1A (carcinogenic).
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