The fight over a $2 billion talc asbestos cancer verdict that has raged since 2018 has finally come to an end as the United States Supreme Court upheld a Missouri Supreme Court decision. The lawsuit was originally brought by 22 women who alleged that asbestos present in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
An exhaustive amount of evidence and testimony has been presented which indicates that not only was the world’s largest healthcare goods manufacturer aware of the presence of asbestos in its talc-based products, but that it went to significant efforts to conceal that fact from regulators. The result has been the contamination of untold numbers of products once thought to be safe, as the corporation used talc in everything from its Baby Powder product to feminine hygiene products like Shower to Shower.
Asbestos is most commonly known as a carcinogen that causes mesothelioma. The Missouri case however, and others like it, also proved that asbestos can cause ovarian cancer. Women who developed the condition allege that long-term use of a trusted product led them to believe that what they were doing was safe for their bodies. The reality, however, couldn’t be farther from that belief.
Among the most stunning pieces of evidence against Johnson & Johnson in the talc-asbestos scandal have been two bombshell reports published by Reuters. One indicates that J&J has been aware of the presence of asbestos in its talc for decades on end. Publication of the report erased $40 billion in market value from the corporation, and its PR department immediately went on offense, calling the report a “calculated” lie. The other shows that the FDA also had long-term awareness of an asbestos problem with talc-based products but failed to act as a result of pressure from the corporations holding its leash.
J&J’s rabid defense of its talc products has drawn the attention of the Justice Department. The corporation repeated the same statement year after year as the scandal continued, maintaining that its Baby Powder “does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.” 2019 may have been the year that claim became a bit more difficult to substantiate however, when an expert who had once been paid by Johnson & Johnson for his testimony actually found asbestos in a sample of J&J talc.
We wrote in 2020 that Johnson & Johnson promised to take the Missouri verdict all the way to the highest court in the land. With tens of thousands of lawsuits lined up against it over an issue now lost in the Supreme Court, one has to wonder how many more times we’ll have to hear another J&J denial when so much evidence seems to poke bigger holes in their defense with every passing day.