Johnson & Johnson Defends Against Talc-Based Cancer Claims
BY Hannah Felfe STAFF CONTRIBUTOR
4800 plaintiffs assert claims of cancer due to using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products on a national basis.
In February 2016, Johnson & Johnson faced a $72 million verdict on the side of a family advocating for a relative’s death by ovarian cancer.
Jacqueline Fox, deceased at 62, four months before the trial took place, had used Johnson & Johnson’s body wash and baby powder for over 35 years. Her family declared that her ovarian cancer was due to her use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products.
Most research on talc, a powder used to decrease moisture in many personal hygiene products, shows little connection to ovarian cancer. However, some small studies have discovered a slight link. Specific use of talc could be “possibly carcinogenic,” as noted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court established a geographic limitation to where personal injury cases can be filed. Spokeswoman Carole Goodrich stated that because of the new law, Johnson & Johnson expects that many of these out-of-state plaintiffs will be overturned.
Eventually, this became true. On October 17, Johnson & Johnson successfully won the reversal of Fox’s verdict. According to this new measure, Fox, as an Alabama resident, should not have had her lawsuit take place in St. Louis.
In a case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb, manufacturer of Plavix, the Supreme Court determined that non-residents who were not injured in California could not be tried in that state.
Johnson & Johnson won another Missouri trial, where most of the lawsuits are taking place, because of this new law. Many questions have been raised towards these Missouri lawsuits, mostly begun by plaintiffs from other states, since the new geographic limitation of filing cases.
Jacqueline Fox was one of 64 other plaintiffs in this particular situation. Only two of these were Missouri locals. All 65 lawsuits were combined even though they were individually examined.
Fox’s verdict was one of four cases based in St. Louis that totaled $307 million.
Jim Onder, Fox’s lawyer, explained to the Post-Dispatch his wish that the Missouri Supreme Court will return to the case. His defense was that Missouri is the conventional state for jurisdiction of Johnson & Johnson cases because some of the packaging and distribution is done in Missouri at Pharma Tech.
Ovarian cancer is extremely rare for women. The use of talcum powder could only increase the risk of getting ovarian cancer by a third, leaving the likelihood of getting this disease still very small. Johnson & Johnson concludes that its talcum-based products are safe for users.