J&J's Unsealed Emails Highlight Manipulated FDA Reports

  • Ga. Talc Co. Asks To Dismiss Strict Liability Cancer Claim

Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) unsealed emails over the years have highlighted the efforts of the company to avoid the warnings about the linkage of its talcum baby powder with ovarian cancer.

As per the lawsuit filed by the state of Mississippi, a series of emails indicate that J&J chose scientists from Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) to write a talcum powder health risk assessment of 2009. The company even intervened in the final version of the report.

As per the petition filed in 2008, J&J was required to add label warnings on its talcum powder as one of the users claimed that the company's talc products caused ovarian cancer among the women when used around the genitals. Following the appeal, J&J hired scientists to draft the assessment report, which was manipulated in favor of the company and submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hence, the agency did not find it necessary to add the warnings considering the mishandled assessment report.

J&J even created a subsidiary company to get rid of the liabilities in the talcum lawsuits by placing it into the bankruptcy maneuver. Experts who are observing the talc lawsuits closely have informed that J&J's bankruptcy plan will only delay the progress of the lawsuits' proceedings and avoid the additional filing of the cases.

Currently, J&J faces more than 30,000 Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits. All the lawsuits claim that the company failed to warn about the risk of ovarian cancer because of the asbestos particles present in the talc products. The allegations even include that the company was aware of the linkage between cancer and talcum powder but turned a blind eye towards it.

Earlier, 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.

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