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Long-time profit driver for Johnson & Johnson now a clear nemesis

Executives with global colossus Johnson & Johnson are presently viewing talcum powder and other talc-based products in a manner sharply divergent from the elation that has long marked their preeminence as profit drivers for the company.

J&J revenues have been materially augmented for decades by the global popularity of company products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Talc-linked sales these days are undoubtedly less on the minds of principals with the huge multinational medical equipment and pharmaceutical company, though, than are litigation fears tied to those offerings.

Here's one reason why: a jury verdict rendered just last week that awarded a plaintiff couple $37 million in compensatory relief (that figure could yet be added to by punitive damages) for cancer imputed to long-term talc use.

The specific finding in the closely watched case posits a troubling connection between talc deposits and cancer-causing asbestos. That determination could prove vexing for J&J in future cases.

There is certainly no lack of those talc-linked product liability matters clogging judicial dockets across the country. As noted in one recent national report, "A batch of similar asbestos-related cases it making its way through the courts." The multi-million-dollar plaintiff award against J&J in its home state of New Jersey is unquestionably notable, and an outcome that deeply concerns the company.

J&J's stress is certainly added to by what are reportedly "thousands of separate but related cases" alleging a close tie between women's use of talc products and resulting ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson is unsurprisingly pushing back hard against liability filings, alleging that claims do not sufficiently establish a nexus between victims' cancers and J&J product use.

More material news is likely to soon emerge. Another talc/asbestos jury trial is scheduled to get underway next month.

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