J&J's Talcum Powder Lawsuits' Proceedings Halted

  • EPA To Broader Risk Assessments of Talc

A U.S. bankruptcy judge has halted the court proceedings of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) talcum powder lawsuits and has transferred the cases to a federal court in New Jersey where the verdict might not favor the company.

The claims have been put on hold for sixty days. The judge even explained that the cases have been moved to New Jersey, as most of the talcum powder litigations have been filed in the state, and even J&J has its headquarters there.

All the lawsuits filed against J&J allege that the company's talcum product contains asbestos, which results in cancer, whereas J&J is firm on its opinion that its products are safe for use.

J&J has even created LTL Management LLC to settle the talc claims, but the talc users diagnosed with cancer have challenged the move by claiming that it will only result in a biased verdict against the users. 

The attorneys for the plaintiffs stated that the bankruptcy protection plan will benefit the company, which is not acceptable as the company is still financially strong. The lawyers even explained that the bankruptcy move will also affect the upcoming talcum trials.

One of the plaintiffs' lawyers said that J&J should not be allowed to manipulate the bankruptcy system as the decades of corporate negligence from the company have resulted in several deaths and thousands of suffering victims. However, the attorneys welcomed the move of transferring the claims.

J&J has spent around $1 billion to defend nearly 40,000 talcum powder claims with allegations that the products cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Although the company succeeded in defending its products, in some cases, it has even spent around $3.5 billion in verdicts and settlements to deal with the claimants.

$465 million opioid judgment that was earlier ruled against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), alleging that the company illicitly marketed drugs that resulted in the opioid epidemic, has been overturned.

The lawsuit alleged that J&J deceptively forced the distributors, wholesalers, pharmacies, hospitals, physicians’ offices and doctors to promote the use of opioids which resulted in an opioid crisis throughout 
the state.

The high court said that it does not want to downplay the chaos caused due to the opioid crisis among the people of Oklahoma, but the company cannot be held liable for the epidemic as it did not create a public nuisance.

The court informed that the judge's ruling was too harsh on the company and it should not be held responsible for the opioid crisis as the state's public nuisance law does not apply to manufacturing, marketing and sales of prescription opioids. The ruling is a huge blow to the states and local governments that have filed lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies, alleging them of fueling the drug abuse crisis.

John O'Connor, Oklahoma Attorney General, showed disappointment with the ruling and even said that he would continue to pursue a similar case against the drug distributors. He has sought $9.3 billion from J&J to fund the treatment and other programs necessary to deal with the epidemic.

According to statistics provided, more than 4,600 people died because of opioid overdoses in Oklahoma from 2007 to 2017. The number of deaths across the country is more than 500,000 since 2000. Earlier, J&J, along with the three largest drug distribution companies, agreed to pay $26billion to settle similar lawsuits across the U.S.

Earlier, a California jury has cleared four major drug companies from liabilities in the opioids epidemic litigation that demanded the companies to pay tens of billions of dollars to compensate for the opioid crisis.

Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Teva are the companies involved in the litigation. All the companies faced similar allegations that they used tricky marketing strategies to increase sales of opioids.

The companies attorney said that their clients are not responsible for fueling the opioid crisis. He added that if the company would have been found liable for the epidemic, it would have had to pay for costly public health and drug treatment programs that were acceptable on the drugmakers' part.

According to the findings provided by the court, the plaintiffs failed to prove an actionable public nuisance against the defendants, and the marketing and promotion of the drugs were appropriate which were not intended to harm the users.

The current ruling is a significant victory for the drugmakers considering the ever-increasing number of opioid lawsuits against them.

As per the data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide death rate due to opioid overdose is soaring, with nearly 100,000 deaths of Americans in 12 months.

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