A New Jersey jury awarded $37 million in compensatory damages on Thursday to an investment banker and his wife.
J&J Products User For More Than 30 Years
Stephen Lanzo claimed he developed cancer after using Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder for decades. He said that he used Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products for over three decades and believes that the talc that was used in these products were laced with asbestos.
He said that he contracted mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs due to inhalation of talcum powder that contained asbestos, a substance known to cause cancer when inhaled.
Asbestos-Laced Talc May Cause Cancer
Deposits of talc are often found near sources of asbestos. Studies have shown that there is a risk of cross-contamination during mining, which leads to possibilities of talc miners and users of talc products contracting mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure.
"Talc that has asbestos is generally accepted as being able to cause cancer if it is inhaled," the American Cancer Society said.
Lanzo said that he regularly used the talc powder products since his 1972, the year he was born, to around 2003. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016.
His lawyers claimed that J&J officials and the J&J's talc supplier Imerys were worried about asbestos contaminating talc and other products as early as 1969.
Asbestos-Free Since The 1970s
Johnson & Johnson said that its talc products do not contain asbestos as this has been a legal requirement since the 1970s.
Nonetheless, the jury in Middlesex County Superior court found J&J responsible for 70% of the damages and France-based Imerys responsible for 30 percent of the damages.
Other Factors May Have Caused Lanzo's Mesothelioma
J&J lawyers also argued that Lanzo may have contracted mesothelioma from other sources, citing that the house where Lanzo grew up used to have asbestos-wrapped pipes. The public schools where he attended were also treated for asbestos.
"Talc did not cause Mr. Lanzo's cancer,'' said Gwen Myers, spokesperson for Imerys. "The evidence was clear that his asbestos exposure came from a different source such as the asbestos found in his childhood home or schools.''
Lawsuits Over Talc Products
J&J is currently facing lawsuits by 6,610 plaintiffs. Most of these cases involved claim that it failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer for using its products.