Johnson & Johnson has suffered some costly setbacks in its talc defense, but on Wednesday, the company scored a victory close to home.
A jury in Middlesex County, New Jersey, cleared the drugmaker in a lawsuit brought by plaintiff Ricardo Rimondi alleging J&J’s talc contains asbestos and caused his mesothelioma, Reuters reports. The 58-year-old resident of Brentwood, New York, who was born in Peru and came to the U.S. in 1992, said he used J&J's talc powder from birth until age 50, according to the the New Jersey Law Journal. Doctors diagnosed him with mesothelioma in 2016.
But the jury saw things differently. It delivered the verdict in favor of J&J unanimously in 30 minutes.
The decision underscores that “decades of clinical evidence and scientific studies by medical experts around the world support the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” a J&J spokeswoman said. So far, out of nine mesothelioma/talc cases that have made it to trial, J&J has prevailed in three, she added. Five resulted in mistrials.
Earlier this month, a California jury hit the company with a $29 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff; J&J pledged to appeal. The company reiterated on Wednesday that for each verdict against J&J that’s made it through appeals, each has been overturned. The company maintains its talc is safe and doesn't cause cancer.
Plaintiffs argue otherwise. About 13,000 have sued the company alleging harm from talc, according to a recent J&J securities filing.
Additionally on Wednesday, J&J settled three talc cases in Oklahoma, California and New York, Bloomberg reports. In a statement to the news service, a J&J spokeswoman described the deals as "one-off situations" where settling was a "reasonable alternative."
The latest victory for J&J comes after some big losses in 2018. In July, jurors in St. Louis hit the company with a $4.69 billion verdict after a trial that combined the claims of 22 plaintiffs. J&J has appealed. In December, Reuters reported that the drugmaker has known about and worked to hide asbestos in its talc for decades. Investors sent J&J’s shares down sharply after the report, lopping tens of billions of dollars off its market cap. The company’s shares haven’t recovered to their levels from before the report.
After the Reuters report, Senator Patty Murray asked J&J for some documents related to the product, and the company disclosed that the Justice Department and SEC are looking into the issue.