Talcum powder has unfairly become the 'poster child' for class-action lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, its CFO says

Johnson & Johnson baby powder

  • Johnson & Johnson’s finance chief has accused
    lawyers of splurging hundreds of millions on advertising to build
    class-actions lawsuits that falsely claim the talc in its products
    cause cancer.
  • Talc, a mineral in baby powder and other drying
    products, is “the poster child for how big a business plaintiffs’
    attorneys have made this type of approach,” CFO Joseph Wolk said on
    the healthcare giant’s third-quarter earnings call.
  • There were 15,500 plaintiffs tied to talcum lawsuits
    against Johnson & Johnson as of June 30, and the company is
    appealing a $4.7 billion jury award to 22 women and their families
    last year,
    the Wall Street Journal reported
    .
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Johnson & Johnson’s finance chief has accused lawyers of
splurging hundreds of millions on advertising to build class-action
lawsuits that falsely claim the talc in its products cause
cancer.

Talc, a mineral in baby powder and other drying products, is
“the poster child for how big a business plaintiffs’ attorneys have
made this type of approach,” CFO Joseph Wolk said on the healthcare
giant’s third-quarter earnings call. Johnson & Johnson is also
fending off class-action lawsuits centered on its anti-psychotic
drug Risperdal and its role in fueling the opioid crisis.

“The plaintiffs bar in total has spent over $400 million this
year alone in advertising on TV, trying to drum up the numbers in
class-action suits,” Wolk continued. “It’s become a $36 billion
industry.”

However, Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly denied that talc
is dangerous.

“We’re going to continue to defend a product that we know to be
safe, that we know does not cause cancer,” Wolk said. “That’s not
just the opinion of Johnson & Johnson’s scientists, that’s the
opinion of respected institutions like the National Cancer
Institute, the FDA and numerous prestigious universities.”

Other experts aren’t so sure. “It is not clear if consumer
products containing talcum powder increase cancer risk,” the
American Cancer Society
says on its website
.

There were 15,500 plaintiffs involved in talcum-powder lawsuits
against Johnson & Johnson as of June 30, up from 1,400 in early
2016,
the Wall Street Journal reported
.

The company continues to battle the claims. It has appealed a
$4.7 billion jury award to 22 women and their families who alleged
its baby powder caused ovarian cancer,
the Journal said
. Moreover,
Reuters reported
a Missouri appeals court overturned a $110
million verdict against the company this week — although that was
because an out-of-state plaintiff brought the case.

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Talcum powder has unfairly become the 'poster child' for class-action lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, its CFO says