Johnson & Johnson (J&J) defended itself in a new trial in the United States on claims related to its talc-based products, stressing that its widely-used baby powder never contained asbestos, a known carcinogen linked to mesothelioma.
As trial began on Monday in a South Carolina court in a lawsuit that alleges that J&J Baby Powder was responsible for the death of a woman due to her exposure to cancer-causing asbestos, lawyers for the healthcare conglomerate rejected the claims, Reuters reports.
A lawyer pointed out that millions of people had used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder without developing any diseases. “And that’s because it does not contain asbestos,” he said.
In opening statements, a lawyer for the family of Bertila Boyd-Bostic, who died of a rare form of cancer in 2017 at the age of 30, told a jury in the Darlington County Court of Common Pleas that J&J had known for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos.
Boyd-Bostic used baby powder nearly all her life, her family’s lawyer said. In 2016, she was diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, an extremely rare form of cancer that develops in the lining around the heart.
The lawyer accused J&J of concealing knowledge of asbestos contamination since the 1970s and choosing not to warn consumers of the risks.
J&J and its supplier denied the allegations, and their lawyers said their talc product did not cause any form of cancer, the report said.
The case also names as a defendant a local unit of Rite Aid, one of the largest US drugstore chains, which allegedly sold the baby powder used by the woman.
The case marked the first time a drugstore was involved in a talcum powder liability trial. A lawyer for the drugstore firm said there was no reason for Rite Aid to be part of the suit.
The case is one of several in recent months that alleged asbestos in talc products caused mesothelioma.
J&J has also been battling several cases that claim its baby powder caused ovarian cancer.
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