Johnson and Johnson won its second consecutive legal victory in one week after a judge reversed a record $417 million jury verdict against the health giant over alleged links between ovarian cancer and its talc based products. J&J talcum products like Johnson Baby Powder have long been used by women for feminine hygiene purposes, and there are more than 4,800 plaintiffs across the country suing over an alleged association with their or their family members’ cancers.
Johnson & Johnson had lost several major jury trials in these cases; the two recently reversed verdicts total nearly $500 million in damages that would have had to be paid to patients and their families.
“We are pleased with Judge Maren Nelson’s ruling. Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease, but it is not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used in Johnson’s Baby Powder for decades,” said a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson in a statement on the latest court decision.
Johnson & Johnson has long argued that its talcum products have been proven safe by years of research. There’s some conflicting data out there about the safety of talc use for feminine hygiene; for instance, it may depend on the type of talc in question. But the more dangerous types (including those which may contain some asbestos in their natural forms) aren’t used for commercial purposes. In other kinds of talcum powder, the cancer risk studies “have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase,” according to the American Cancer Society.
J&J has been pushing against some of the baby powder verdicts on jurisdictional grounds; the plaintiffs in the recently reversed cases may decide to appeal.