Baby Powder From Decades Ago Caused Cancer, California Jury Finds


Jurors found that J&J's talc-based products used by Leavitt were defective and that the company had failed to warn consumers of the health risks, awarding $29.4 million in damages to Leavitt and her husband. The verdict said that the baby powder was a "substantial contributing factor" in her illness.

A jury in Missouri previous year awarded US$4.69 million to 22 women.

The company is now fighting two asbestos-related lawsuits in New Jersey and Oklahoma courts, and two more trials could begin this month, the UBS analysts said.

Leavitt believes her cancer was caused by Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower - another powder containing talc sold by J&J in the past - which she used in the 1960s and 1970s.

J&J cited "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" in the course of the trial, but the company did not provide further details of the alleged errors.

"We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product", she added.

"This track record shows that there are one set of facts in these cases, and that decades of tests by independent, non-litigation driven experts and institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer", the company said.

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"Hundreds of internal J&J documents showed the truth that it has been hiding for years".

In December, documents came to light showing J&J anxious for decades that its baby powder might be laced with small amounts of asbestos, which can occur naturally underground near talc.

Nonetheless, 2018 investigations from the New York Times and Reuters suggested that the company feared for decades that some of its Baby Powder could be tainted by asbestos, a type of carcinogenic mineral that has been linked to cancers of lungs, larynx and ovaries, as well as mesothelioma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The company has long argued multiple studies have shown the powder to be free of the carcinogen and that plaintiffs' cancers were tied to asbestos exposures at work or though building materials in homes or offices.

Almost 14,000 cases involving people who believe that J&J's talc powder caused their cancer are making their way through the USA legal system.

A Mount Sinai researcher wrote in a company letter in 1971 that he had detected a "relatively small" amount of asbestos in the baby powder. They said their baby powder "is safe and asbestos-free".