Johnson & Johnson Baby-Powder Ruling Affirmed, Penalty Cut

Johnson & Johnson lost its effort to reverse a decision to award damages in a baby-powder case. But the court reduced the award.
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Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report shares on Tuesday eased after an appeals court affirmed a ruling in favor of 20 women who attributed their ovarian cancer to the pharmaceutical giant’s talcum-based baby powder.

But the Missouri Court of Appeals cut the sum established in a 2018 jury decision to $2.12 billion from $4.69 billion, Reuters reported. 

J&J has encountered mixed results in the thousands of lawsuits it has faced regarding the powder.

Plaintiffs claim that women using the baby powder every day for feminine hygiene suffered from asbestos mixed with the talcum used to manufacture the baby powder.

In addition to the ovarian cancer, they said the drug also led to mesothelioma, a cancer in tissue around the lungs.

Officials at the New Brunswick, N.J., health-care giant say scientific testing hasn’t shown evidence of that. Johnson & Johnson has contested the lawsuits case by case. As of March it faced about 19,400 plaintiffs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In May, the company said it was discontinuing sales of the talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada.

It said demand has been falling “due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” according to a statement.

Johnson’s Baby Powder “represents approximately 0.5% of the total U.S. Consumer Health business,” according to the company's statement.

J&J shares at last check traded little changed at $143.41. The stock has climbed 20% over the past three months, lagging the S&P 500 index, which has jumped 36%.