Baby powder and cancer | Johnson & Johnson definitively ordered to pay $ 2.1 billion

(Washington) The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear an appeal from the American pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson, effectively validating its order to pay $ 2.1 billion in damages and interest for the sale of talc accused of causing cancer.

Posted on 1is June 2021 at 1:54 p.m.

France Media Agency

The highest American court has not, in accordance with custom, justified its decision which puts an end to years of proceedings and could have an impact on other class actions.

The hygiene products company has faced thousands of complaints in recent years accusing its talcum powder to contain asbestos and cause ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson has always claimed that its baby powder does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.

She has been convicted on several occasions, notably in 2018 by a jury which had consolidated several cases and ordered her to pay $ 4.7 billion in damages to 22 plaintiffs.


Talc is not just for babies. Above, a participant in an indoor climbing competition in Montreal on August 17, 2019.

In June 2020, a Missouri appeals court reduced this amount, ruling that some plaintiffs, not having ties to the state, should not have been included in the lawsuit.

But she had estimated that the group had “knowingly sold to consumers products containing asbestos”, causing a strong “physical, mental and emotional anguish”.

Johnson & Johnson had appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court which had refused to take it up, then to the highest court in the country which therefore did the same on Tuesday.

The group had argued that the class action including plaintiffs from other states violated its rights, and contested the amount deemed punitive of the sums awarded.

Judges Kavanaugh and Alito recused themselves

Two Supreme Court justices recused themselves. According to the American press, Samuel Alito owns shares in the group and Brett Kavanaugh’s father worked as a lobbyist for the company.

The court ruling “leaves important legal questions that state and federal courts will continue to face” on procedural and jurisdictional issues, the company said on Tuesday.

It is not related to “product safety,” Johnson & Johnson insisted.

While maintaining its innocence, Johnson & Johnson announced in May 2020 that it was stopping selling this talc-based powder in the United States and Canada, countries where sales have declined due to changing habits and ‘mistrust of the product.

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