Bayer now faces 11,200 lawsuits over Roundup cancer risk
The troubles keep mounting for German pharmaceutical giant Bayer since it acquired Monsanto last June for $62.5 billion.
As of Wednesday, the company was facing lawsuits from more than 11,200 people over its controversial weed killer Roundup that has been linked to causing cancer in some individuals.
Last August, a California jury concluded that Roundup and the company’s Ranger Pro products presented a “substantial danger” to terminally ill 46-year-old Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, who became sick with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using the spray for more than two years as a groundskeeper.
Jurors believed the company knew or should have known about the potential risks the products posed.
Johnson was first awarded $289 million, but that amount was later reduced to $78 million.
Since Johnson's case made national headlines, Bayer has been flooded with other lawsuits.
More than 1,900 have been filed over the past three months alone. Bayer is also already back in federal court this week in San Francisco to hear the case of 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman, who also believes Roundup gave him cancer. Six others trials are scheduled to begin this year as well.
A Bayer spokesperson told FOX Business that it would like “to emphasize once again that we disagree with the verdict in the Johnson case. We have therefore filed an appeal. And we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously in all the other proceedings as well.”
Bayer added that glyphosate, which is the controversial active ingredient in Roundup, “is a safe product” and “that has been proven by numerous scientific studies and the independent assessments of regulatory authorities throughout the world over a period of more than 40 years.”
However, glyphosate has been under scrutiny for years. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, identified the ingredient as a “probable carcinogen.”
Bayer stock has fallen more than 27 percent since the first courtroom defeat in August.
Timothy Litzenburg, Johnson’s attorney, who defeated Monsanto in court, told FOX Business in August that calls are pouring in and he already has thousands of cases for years to come.
“My goal right now is try to take as many cases to trial as I can,” he said. But he added that this case wasn’t just about money for him or his client.
Johnson, who is a father of three, wanted more than anything to educate the world about Roundup and the side effects of using the spray.
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“He wanted people to know, and he felt like he had this great burden from having spread this chemical on school grounds for so long,” Litzenburg said.