A St. Louis jury hit Johnson & Johnson with a $4.69 billion verdict after finding that the company knew its talcum powder products contained asbestos that contributed to ovarian cancer in the 22 women who filed the complaint. But the company will hardly feel the financial blow. Last week, J&J announced sales of $20.8 billion for the second quarter of 2018 – a 10.6 percent increase compared to the second quarter f 2017. And yes, that’s a quarter of sales. Just one-fourth of the year.
“Our strong second-quarter results reflect double-digit growth in our Pharmaceutical business and the accelerating sales momentum in our Medical Devices business, driven by the continued growth of our market leading products and strategic new launches,” said Alex Grosky, chairman and chief executive officer.
Despite rising awareness of the potential dangers of talcum powder products, J&J reported worldwide Consumer division sales of $3.5 billion for the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 0.7 percent over the previous year.
J&J’s consumer products that contain talc, like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder, have been the subject of recent litigation. One track of lawsuits claims that regular use of J&J talcum powders on the genitals for personal hygiene causes ovarian cancer. Another group of lawsuits claims that regular use of talc-containing products contributed to mesothelioma, a rare but deadly type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
In April, a California jury ordered J&J and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America to pay a New Jersey man and his wife $117 million over claims that their talc caused mesothelioma.