Johnson & Johnson Controversy: The Business Wants To Pay 8.9 Billion To Resolve Cancer Claims
US-based pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson put forward an $8.9 billion settlement to resolve all the lawsuits which alleged that their talc powder products cause cancer. A subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson will re-file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seek court permission for a plan that would lead to one of the biggest product-liability settlements in the country’s history. Continue reading this article for a better understanding of the lawsuit.
What is the story behind the Johnson & Johnson controversy?
Johnson & Johnson is a multinational corporation founded in 1886 that developed packaged goods, pharmaceutical products and medical devices. The company has been the subject of over 40,000 lawsuits which claimed that its talcum powder causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. It is because the powder is contaminated with asbestos which is a naturally occurring silicate material, also a known carcinogen. Most adult women use Johnson & Johnson baby powder for feminine hygiene
In 2015, a 62-year-old woman died due to ovarian cancer, and a court ordered the company to pay her family compensation worth $72 million. Afterwards, over 1,000 women in the country sued Johnson & Johnson for covering up the cancer risk. Subsequently, more and more women came forward with lawsuits, including an ovarian cancer victim who was awarded $400 million compensation by a jury in California. The cases eventually reached the supreme court of the United States, which refused to consider an appeal from Johnson & Johnson.
Though they stand firm on their argument that the powder is safe for use, Johnson & Johnson announced in 2020 that they would stop making talc-based powder and replace it with cornstarch-based powder.
In India, Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration cancelled J&J manufacturing licence. Samples taken from a Mulund plant were declared “not of standard quality” in 2019, though this decision was set aside by the Bombay High Court.
How is asbestos linked to cancer risk in people?
Cancer is defined as a condition where the old cells in the human body abnormally divide to form lumps of tissue called tumours, which can spread to other parts, a condition called metastasis. It is often the result of injuries or mutations within the human body where the normal process of DNA repair does not happen. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, a material that can cause mutation within the human body.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that is used to make products such as insulation materials, wallboard materials, fireproofing materials, automotive brakes, etc.
When asbestos enters the human body, it remains there for a long time, possibly creating inflammation and scarring. However, people should know that only prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause massive damage to the human body. For example, people who engage in textiles or renovation, repair, and construction of asbestos-containing materials are exposed to high levels of this mineral.
Asbestos exposure is linked to the following cancers;
It is the most reported cancer that occurs as a result of asbestos exposure, and it is noted in the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. It is the type of cancer that affects the lining of certain body organs’ outer surfaces, notably the lungs, stomach, testicles, and heart.
It is the type of cancer that affects the ovaries, the female sexual organ which produces eggs or ovum and secretes the female hormone estrogen.
It is the type of cancer that begins in the lungs and then spreads to other parts of the human body, including the brain.
Laryngeal cancer is the type of cancer that affects an individual’s voice box or larynx.
Does Johnson & Johnson talc powder contain asbestos?
A research report published by Reuters cited a mesothelioma victim who, for a long time, didn’t know how she was exposed to unhealthy levels of asbestos. It was her personal injury lawyer who found out that Johnson’s Baby Powder had asbestos-contaminated talc in it.
Over the years, people from various sections sued the multinational corporation. J&J also hid the fact that different tests by at least three different labs from 1972 to 1975 mentioned the presence of asbestos in it’s talc. Experts representing J&J defense team stood firm regarding the safety of the powders. However, medical experts, notably paediatricians, have raised concerns regarding the safety of talc powder, especially for children. The pharmaceutical giant’s decision to dissolve talc powder manufacturing and settle the case highlights the validity of the case.
Baby skin is delicate and medical experts often discourage parents from providing their babies with powder and other cosmetic products. However, baby powder is applied mostly to reduce rashes and friction caused by diapers. Most women apply baby powder to the skin close to their private parts to reduce rashes and feminine odours. The world health organization’s (WHO) research wing international agency for research on cancer (IARC) discouraged people from using talc powder on their genitals, citing the possible carcinogenic effects on the genitals. Centre for disease control and prevention or CDC cited that inhalation of talc powder is harmful to the lungs. It is safer for people to choose alternatives like cornstarch, tapioca starch or baking soda.
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