Johnson & Johnson scores another talc win with California mesothelioma verdict

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Johnson & Johnson faces about 16,800 lawsuits alleging harm from talc powder. (J&J)

Johnson & Johnson just chalked up another win against allegations that its talcum powder causes cancer.

A jury in Los Angeles sided with the company in the case of Amy Fong, who alleged J&J’s talc contained asbestos and caused her to develop mesothelioma, Courtroom View Network reports. The company still faces almost 17,000 cases over talc safety.

A J&J spokeswoman said the company sympathizes with "anyone suffering from cancer, and we understand patients and their families are seeking answers." But the "facts are clear—Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos nor does it cause cancer, as reflected in more than 40 years of scientific evidence," she said. Monday's result is the third straight talc verdict in favor of J&J.

The decision marks another win for J&J as it faces around 16,800 lawsuits alleging harm from talc. In the face of the litigation, the drugmaker has always maintained its products are safe.

But earlier this year, the company recalled one lot of the powder out of an "abundance of caution" after the FDA detected “sub-trace” levels of asbestos in one bottle. J&J then tested the bottle and others and found the batch to contain no asbestos. For its part, the FDA stood by the result.  

RELATED: J&J says tests find no asbestos in suspect talc batch, but FDA stands by its finding 

Throughout the litigation, even as J&J has scored numerous trial wins, various juries have also ordered the drugmaker to pay billions of dollars in verdicts. J&J has said it’ll appeal its losses and has successfully overturned numerous prior verdicts. J&J's spokeswoman said that every verdict that's been through the appeals process has been overturned.

In the Fong case, J&J lawyers raised concerns of “prejudicial irregularities” throughout the trial. They said plaintiffs’ lawyers “resisted answering” questions about testimony from an expert witness on asbestos testing in talc and more. 

RELATED: Attorney misconduct allegations crop up in Johnson & Johnson, Gilead cases 

Aside from talc, the company also faces litigation over opioids, its antipsychotic medicine Risperdal, plus other drugs and devices; it's offered to pay $4 billion to settle its opioid litigation. To defend against those issues and others, J&J spent around $900 million on legal costs in the first half of the year, Axios reported in October.

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