Tuesday, 28 May, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalResearcher wants court to throw out J&J lawsuit over cancer findings

Researcher wants court to throw out J&J lawsuit over cancer findings

A medical researcher has asked a court to toss out a lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson filed against her over her 2019 study on the links between cosmetic talc products and cancer, saying her research was sound and protected by free speech rights.

Reuters reports that Dr Jacqueline Moline, who has served as a plaintiffs’ expert in more than 200 cases alleging that J&J talc products caused patients to develop cancer, told a court last week that the lawsuit was an effort to “intimidate” scientific experts.

She said scientific conclusions based on accurate descriptions of the data and methodology used to develop them are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution’s protections for free speech and academic freedom.

J&J faces more than 38 000 lawsuits alleging that its talc products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, can contain asbestos and caused cancers, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

The company has insisted its talc products are safe and do not contain asbestos.

J&J’s subsidiary LTL Management, which absorbed the company’s talc liability in a controversial 2021 spinoff, sued Moline in May and three other researchers in July, accusing them of publishing fraudulent research that harmed J&J’s reputation.

On Monday, J&J reiterated a claim from the May lawsuit that Moline’s study was flawed because it claimed to focus on 33 patients who had no asbestos exposure other than their use of cosmetic talc products.

But at least one study participant was exposed to an additional source of asbestos, and J&J said it believes other study participants also have additional asbestos exposure.

Moline, who works at Northwell Health – New York’s largest healthcare provider – said in her court filing that her study properly disclosed that all information about the patients’ exposure to asbestos came from testimony they had provided during their lawsuits.

The study also disclosed a potential conflict of interest related to her work as a plaintiffs’ expert.

When one patient separately filed a workers’ compensation claim that appeared to contradict her court testimony by alleging a different source of asbestos exposure, Moline updated her paper to say that she should not have included that patient, but stood by her paper’s conclusions, according to her court filing.

J&J has attempted to resolve the talc litigation by putting LTL Management in bankruptcy, and as part of that process offered $8.9bn to end all current and future lawsuits alleging that talc causes cancer.

Its efforts have so far been thwarted by court rulings that the company is not in sufficient financial distress to qualify for bankruptcy protection.

J&J has appealed those rulings, while also stepping up attacks on scientific studies that have been used as evidence in talc lawsuits.

The talc lawsuits have a mixed record at trial, with J&J winning several verdicts but losing some others, including a $2.1bn judgment awarded to 22 women who blamed their ovarian cancer on asbestos in the talc products.

The lawsuits had been paused by LTL’s bankruptcy, but they are free to resume now that the bankruptcy has been dismissed.

J&J has stopped selling talc-based Baby Powder in favour of cornstarch-based products, citing an increase in lawsuits and “misinformation” about the talc product’s safety.

 

Reuters article – Doctor asks court to toss J&J lawsuit against her over cancer research (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Jury awards $4.7bn pay-out to women using J&J talc products

 

J&J to pay $18.8m to dying man in talc suit

 

J&J proposes settlement of billions in talc cancer claims

 

J&J confirms end to global talc sales amid contamination litigation

 

 

 

 

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