Another blow for Johnson and Johnson: an American jury has awarded a big talc payout to one of its customers. I haven’t looked at the details yet, but on the face of it this is another case of sentiment trumping science. Nobody likes big corporations and we are all only too willing to believe the worse about them. So when you are told that they are poisoning the public and lying to cover it up, you tend to sympathise with the victims.
I have run the numbers on risk posed by talc science already. But I think it is no longer a science story. Although most people probably imagine that the likes of Johnson and Johnson have millions in the bank, as they no doubt do, that doesn’t alter the fact that they plan their investments on the premise of being able to make some money. If they fear that this makes them liable in the future to situations similar to this big talc payout, then they’ll be less willing to launch products and they’ll be much more careful about their margins.
I have no more idea where this is heading than anybody else. But I think one very possible outcome is that we see fewer cosmetic products launched and those that are launched will be priced higher.