Johnson & Johnson sues researchers who linked asbestos in talc to cancer

Four scientists who published research linking talc to cancer are being sued by Johnson & Johnson, the multinational whose products were directly implicated by the findings and which has paid nearly $5bn in settlements and awards as a result.

J&J's subsidiary LTL Management, which absorbed the company's talc liability in a controversial 2021 spinoff, last week filed a lawsuit in New Jersey federal court asking it to force three researchers to "retract and/or issue a correction" of a study that said asbestos-contaminated consumer talc products sometimes caused patients to develop mesothelioma.

J&J recently lost in a $2.1 billion verdict, awarded to 22 women whose ovarian cancer was caused by asbestos. With 38,000 more lawsuits over its talc products such as Baby Powder looming, it sought to avoid further liability through bankruptcy and by offering an $8.9 billion settlement plan.

You may be thinking that it's insane for a pharmaceutical company to openly go after researchers and patients like this, because of the threat it poses to its own industry. "The gloves are off," one expert is quoted as saying. But surely the whole point of all those corporate subsidiary shenanigans was to create a while-hot ball of legal rage that has nothing whatever to do with being a pharmaceutical company.

Suing J&J? Maybe it's time to get one of those mirror-on-a-stick gadgets and learn what the underside of your car is supposed to look like.