Talcum Powder Cancer Is One Among Many J&J Worries
August Opioid Ruling Anticipated in Oklahoma
Friday, August 30, 2019 - Johnson & Johnson, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world and a respected household name is the center of multiple legal battles that have investors worried about the company's future. Between thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits and litigation in most states linked to the opioid crisis, J&J is in a sticky spot that is unlikely to resolve anytime soon.
The Oklahoma-based Judge Thad Balkman is expected to deliver the first ruling among hundreds of lawsuits filed against J&J by state and local governments linked to the opioid crisis. The case, brought forward by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, is representative of those filed nationwide against the pharmaceutical giant, alleging J&J's actions resulted in the addiction and suffering of countless Americans in what has been labeled a national public health crisis. Hunter and others allege J&J intentionally flooded the pharmaceutical market with opioids, then implemented a marketing campaign over the course of years that downplayed the risks of opioids to both doctors and consumers. As a result, opioids were overprescribed, resulting in the crisis now plaguing American communities.
As J&J fights off opioid allegations in courts large and small across the nation, talcum powder cancer litigation is also heating up. These lawsuits have been gaining traction for years, hitting a crescendo in July of 2018 when a jury ruled in favor of 22 women suffering from ovarian cancer. The talcum powder users were awarded a staggering $4.69 billion when a jury agreed that asbestos in baby powder had caused their cancer. More than 12,000 lawsuits are currently pending in courts around the nation, filed by and on behalf of women with ovarian cancer who have also used J&J talc products. Claims have also been filed by plaintiffs who say they developed mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos particles from J&J hygiene products.
J&J's trouble doesn't stop there; federal investigators are also concerned about the company's handling of the talcum powder cancer danger. In early 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the launch of an investigation into the company's management of its talc-based products. Evidence which surfaced during previous lawsuits and made public by Reuters indicates company executives were aware of asbestos content in the company's raw talc supply and worried at various junctures about the safety of its products for infants and women. Despite these concerns, warnings were not passed along to consumers. The investigation will consider whether J&J had a duty to warn consumers of the risk.
Amid an expected economic downturn, investors are debating J&J's financial future. The company typically weathers dips well and is typically seen as a safe bet in most circumstances. Could the opioid or baby powder litigation prove to be more than J&J can sustain? Investors' response to the Oklahoma announcement may serve as an indicator for the company's ability to ride out these legal problems in a slumping market.