Johnson & Johnson to pay $42m in baby powder cancer payout

California jury orders J&J to pay US$29 million in latest talc cancer trial

Jurors in state court in Oakland, California, Wednesday held J&J responsible for Teresa Leavitt's mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Johnson & Johnson is facing over 13,000 more cases stemming from asbestos-contaminated talcum powder.

In 11 cases so far alleging asbestos contamination in talc, three have resulted in wins for plaintiffs, awarding damages as high as $4.69 billion in a July 2018 multi-plaintiff ovarian cancer verdict.

We are disappointed with today's verdict and will pursue an appeal because Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer. This suit is the first to go to trial since December articles by Reuters and The New York Times alleged the company feared for years that its baby powder might contain asbestos. There are more than a dozen cases scheduled for 2019 alone.

A jury in California has ruled that Johnson & Johnson must pay $29 million to a woman who claimed its baby powder gave her terminal cancer. Leavitt said she often used two talcum-powder-based Johnson & Johnson products - Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder - in the 1960s and 1970s, and claims they contributed to her 2017 cancer diagnosis, according to Reuters.

Even though Leavitt stopped using baby powder two decades ago, recent tests of her lung tissue showed evidence of asbestos, an expert witness testifying for the plaintiff told jurors at one point in the trial.

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"We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product", Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. "We believe these issues will warrant a reversal on appeal".

The company has appealed against all of the plaintiff verdicts, and the company said it was confident the verdicts would be overturned on appeal.

"Yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos", said Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt, in a statement on Wednesday.

"Hundreds of internal J&J documents showed the truth that it has been hiding for years".

While asbestos is classified as a known carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and other groups, the ACS says the science on whether talcum powder causes cancer is more ambiguous.

A Mount Sinai researcher wrote in a company letter in 1971 that he had detected a "relatively small" amount of asbestos in the baby powder. They said their baby powder "is safe and asbestos-free".

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