Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $37M in the case of a New Jersey man who claimed he got mesothelioma from J&J’s talcum powder. Stephen Lanzo III used J&J’s product for over thirty years and believes they contained talc laced with asbestos. The New Brunswick, NJ, jury agreed with him. They found the company responsible for 70% and talc supplier Imerys responsible for 30% of the damages. While talc on its own is not connected to cancer, it is oftentimes mined near asbestos, which has been proven to cause mesothelioma.
Johnson & Johnson had worldwide sales of $70.1B during 2015. The company argued that its products don’t contain asbestos or cause cancer. J&J also stated that Lanzo may suffer from the disease due to asbestos in the environment where he grew up.
In 2013, the global healthcare giant and its subsidiaries were ordered to pay more than $2.2B to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor. Charges included promotion of the medications for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration and payment of kickbacks to physicians and to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider. The resolution was one of the largest healthcare fraud settlements in U.S. history, including criminal fines and forfeiture totaling $485M as well as civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $1.72B. In November 2013, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery stated, “As patients and consumers, we have a right to rely upon the claims drug companies make about their products.”
Johnson & Johnson is currently involved in thousands of lawsuits that allege its talc products cause ovarian cancer. In lawsuits against J&J, pharmacology experts have educated juries in complex medical matters as to whether there is a connection between long-term use of J&J personal products and ovarian cancer. These experts opine on clinical toxicology and the causation of diseases such as leukemia and lung cancer. They report and testify on the toxicity of mineral dust such as asbestos on the immune system. Having the right pharmaceutical expert witness is a vital part of litigation.