In what has turned out to be a mixed week in court for Johnson & Johnson, the drugmaker took a took a damaging hit late Thursday as a St. Louis jury awarded the largest verdict to date in the ongoing talc powder saga. The verdict comes the same week that J&J won a bellwether case over the alleged risks of blockbuster Xarelto.
A St. Louis jury on Thursday ordered J&J to pay $110 million to Lois Slemp, who claimed that several decades of using talc products caused her ovarian cancer that later spread to her liver. During a trial that lasted several weeks, Slemp’s attorneys called on scientists to testify about studies documenting a link between ovarian cancer and talc use. They also presented documents showing that J&J knew about the risks, according to a release.
Now, J&J says it'll appeal. A company spokesperson said a previous victory in St. Louis and two in New Jersey “highlight the lack of credible scientific evidence behind plaintiffs’ allegations."
“We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” spokesperson Carol Goodrich said in a statement.
The verdict includes $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages. J&J talc supplier Imerys was ordered to pay $50,000 in punitive damages and $54,000 in compensatory damages.
“Once again we’ve shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America,” Ted Meadows, an attorney for Slemp, said in a statement.
Thursday’s jury decision comes after J&J scored a win in its talc litigation back in March, and after three previous defeats that cost the company nearly $200 million. According to its recent 10-K, J&J faces about 3,100 cases claiming talc powder caused harm. J&J faces more than 100,000 injury claims in the U.S. for its devices and drugs, according to the filing.
Many of the talc cases are in St. Louis, where J&J has argued the jury pool is tainted due to millions in ad spending by its opponents.
Thursday's verdict also follows a critical victory for the drug giant with Xarelto. On Wednesday, a New Orleans jury ruled that J&J and partner Bayer didn’t fail to properly warn about blockbuster Xarelto’s bleeding risks.
As a so-called bellwether trial, that New Orleans case was an important win for the drug companies because it could impact settlement negotiations going forward. It’s the first of an estimated 18,000 making claims over Xarelto.