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From Fen-Phen to Vioxx: The biggest healthcare product liability settlements ever

Alex Gorsky, chairman and chief executive officer at Johnson & Johnson.
Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Key Points
  • Johnson & Johnson is just the latest healthcare product company to face a wave of liability lawsuits.
  • Though it faces billions of dollars in claims alleging its talc baby powder products contained asbestos and caused cancer, the financial hit to the company has yet to be determined.
  • Here are some other major cases and the amounts paid out to settle claims, according to analysts at Wells Fargo Securities.

Johnson & Johnson is just the latest healthcare product company to face a wave of liability lawsuits.

Though it faces billions of dollars in claims alleging its talc baby powder products contained asbestos and caused cancer, the financial hit to the company has yet to be determined.

Johnson & Johnson stock plunged Friday following a report by Reuters that it knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos. The company released a statement calling the Reuters article "one-sided, false and inflammatory."

JNJ OTHER LIABILITY CASES Schoen 12-15-2018

So far, some juries have sided with the company, which maintains that independent tests have shown the product does not contain asbestos. Other juries have been unable to reach verdicts.

In July, a Missouri jury ordered J&J to pay $4.69 billion in a case involving 22 women and their families. A judge affirmed the verdict in August and J&J vowed to appeal it.

Even if that verdict stands, the award would fall short of the biggest medical product liability case to date, which involved a diet pill, Fen-Phen, that was linked to potentially fatal heart problems.

Alex Gorsky, chairman and chief executive officer at Johnson & Johnson.
Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images