Johnson & Johnson (J&J), like many other businesses, often hires scientists to help it develop products. As a leader in the health and beauty sector, J&J has many medical professionals and specialized research scientists on the company payroll. These educated professionals play a crucial role in the development and testing of new products.
Yet, recognizing the value of scientific or medical research does not automatically mean that a company respects every science professional or the research that they publish. Sometimes, it may be necessary to raise questions about how researchers arrived at certain conclusions or what influenced their work.
J&J made national headlines in recent months by filing a lawsuit against a group of scientists. What triggered the lawsuit in question?
J&J has faced major losses in recent years
One of the reasons that J&J has become a household brand is because of its ubiquitous bath and beauty products, like the talc powder the company branded as “Baby Powder.” Talc products have long been popular among people of all backgrounds as a way to control moisture and odor. Many people use the product daily.
However, there have recently been questions about the safety of using talc powders because of the possibility of asbestos exposure. Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral substance that is often found close to other mineral substances, including asbestos. Some talc deposits may have natural contamination with asbestos, which could potentially lead to risk for consumers if undetected and unaddressed.
J&J filed a lawsuit in July against three researchers whose published work asserted that asbestos-contaminated talc powders had caused people’s mesothelioma. J &J also has another lawsuit pending against another researcher over a 2019 paper connecting talc use to asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. This research has bolstered consumer claims against J&J and other companies that manufacture talc-based products.
Given the literal billions of dollars in prospective company losses associated with talc-related lawsuits brought by consumers with cancer, the move to legally challenge the science that seemingly supports those lawsuits is one of many strategies being employed to safeguard J&J’s bottom line.
Ultimately, staying up-to-date on current issues related to talc powder and cancer lawsuits may benefit those helping run companies that could face this type of litigation to strategize in more informed ways.