May 19, 2022

Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical giant, asks the United States Supreme Court to review the $2 billion verdict against it. The judgment favored the 22 women who said the talc products manufactured by the company contain asbestos that causes ovarian cancer.

The States Supreme Court will decide as early as Tuesday whether it will involve itself.

The St. Louis Circuit Court conducted a six-week trial in 2018, where a jury awarded the amount of $4.7 billion to the 22 women who developed ovarian cancer after using J&J talc products.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison wrote that the defendants showed particularly reprehensible conduct in the evidence presented at the trial.

“The defendants knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades,” Burlison wrote.

Missouri appeals court rejected the appeal of J&J to overturn the jury verdict but reduced the amount to $2.1 billion because some of the women were from out of state.

The lawsuit is only one of many filed by thousands of women who claim that J&J’s talc-based products like baby powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. Other suits have claimed that the products caused mesothelioma.

J&J denied that its products cause cancer, though last year, it announced that it would stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada.

It said that the decision to discontinue the product was caused by falling demand “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

A US-led analysis of 250,000 women showed no strong evidence linking the use of baby powder with ovarian cancer. However, the study’s lead author called the results “very ambiguous.”

An editorial published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2020 called the findings “overall reassuring.” The study wasn’t definitive, but conclusive research probably isn’t feasible due to a drop in women using the products, the editorial said.