The world’s largest healthcare products company scored a victory last week when a Eureka, California jury cleared it of all liability in a case claiming that asbestos in its talc-based baby powder products caused a woman to develop mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a specific type of lung cancer that has been intrinsically linked to asbestos particles. Widely used in various construction applications for its fireproofing capabilities, the use of the mineral became highly regulated and banned in some cases starting in the late 1980s. The ban is not universal, however, and asbestos still poses a threat to this day. Moves by the Trump administration to once again widen the use of asbestos, however, have scientists and medical professionals not only on edge, but scratching their heads wondering what could have prompted such a move. As the world’s largest producer of asbestos, however, Russia has celebrated the possibility of a new upsurge in purchases.
J&J’s talc-based products first came under fire for their link to ovarian cancer. A number of talc-based ovarian cancer lawsuits emerged claiming that extended use of products like Shower to Shower put women at an enhanced risk of developing the cancer. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been awarded as juries side with plaintiffs and agree that the company didn’t do nearly enough to warn the public of the risks posed by the product.
The ovarian cancer lawsuits took an unexpected twist, however, when claims surfaced that Johnson & Johnson’s talc products also contained asbestos. The claims focused on the notion that it is impossible to separate asbestos from talc during the mining process and left families around the country wondering if they had unwittingly brought a known carcinogen into their homes. These talc-asbestos cases have had mixed results with one leading to a large punitive award and one ending in a mistrial.