(Nov. 19, 2019) Johnson & Johnson recalled some of its talcum powder products last month after the FDA found asbestos in J&J talc powder. The FDA said that it found “sub-trace” levels of asbestos in a bottle of the company’s baby powder.
“An Abundance of Caution” and 33,000 Recalled Bottles
After the FDA’s finding, J&J announced that it is recalling one lot of the powder product “out of an abundance of caution.” The FDA had said it found “sub-trace” levels – those no greater than 0.00002% – of chrysotile asbestos contamination in a bottle the agency had bought from an online retailer.
A J&J spokesman told the New York Times that the recalled lot of talcum products contained 33,000 bottles. The recall is believed to be J&J’s first-ever talcum powder recall.
Talcum Powder Cancer Trials
In several talc-cancer trials over lawsuits that have charged J&J talcum powder contained asbestos, J&J has repeatedly claimed that its talc has never contained asbestos. That blanket denial by the company could be more difficult to deliver in future trials, depending on whether judges admit this latest evidence of asbestos contamination into future trials. At least one plaintiff is already using this talc recall to appeal a judgment against his talc-cancer case.
Johnson & Johnson has been able to turn back several asbestos-related cases, but it has also lost several huge verdicts in the talcum powder-cancer litigation. Plaintiffs have argued that J&J talcum powder contains asbestos that can cause ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, while J&J has repeatedly argued that its talc products have never contained asbestos.
J&J also faces Risperdal drug litigation. Risperdal lawsuits claim the antipsychotic drug caused boys to grow breasts.
In addition, J&J faces thousands of transvaginal mesh cases from women who say they were injured by the mesh used to help treat stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. J&J has settled thousands of mesh cases while continuing to defend others in the courts.
A Search for Truth?
After last month’s talc recall, J&J announced that it has started a “rigorous, thorough investigation” into the asbestos found in its powder. The company has said it will work with the FDA to learn more about the agency’s testing result. J&J stated that it has a “rigorous testing standard.” The company continues to claim that thousands of tests over several decades have never found asbestos in a single J&J product.
Nonetheless, it does not take a legal “expert” to opine that the FDA’s finding asbestos in J&J talc could have a deleterious effect on J&J’s defense against roughly 15,500 talc cancer lawsuits.
J&J Appeals Working
Though J&J has been hit by several huge verdicts over its talc products, it has appealed every verdict and won every appeal that has been fully adjudicated.
J&J Litigation Update
In addition to talc litigation, transvaginal mesh, and Risperdal, J&J also faces thousands of lawsuits over its opioid marketing. FiercePharma.com reports that J&J is said to be offering $4 billion to settle thousands of opioid claims parked in a Cleveland federal court. An Oklahoma jury in Sept. 2019 hit J&J with a $572 million verdict in a case that alleged J&J’s opioid business helped ignite Oklahoma’s addiction crisis. J&J said that it would appeal that decision, of course.
$8B Risperdal Verdict
J&J was hit again, in Oct. 2019, with an $8 billion verdict in a case claiming its Risperdal antipsychotic drug caused a young man to grow breasts. The company has said it is confident that verdict will be overturned. That case is one of hundreds of similar cases pending against J&J.
J&J assessed Mesh Marketing Penalty
Also in Oct. 2019, a group of state attorneys general said J&J had agreed to pay $117 million to settle allegations that the company had deceptively marketed its transvaginal mesh products. The company had also lost several mesh trials.
• J&J Talc recalled after FDA finds Asbestos