Listerine maker sued over cancer test
A company that manufactures a mouth cancer detection test has launched a $65m (£38m) lawsuit against the maker of Listerine mouthwash, claiming that it prevented the test kit being sold to protect its sales.
By James Hall, Consumer Affairs Editor
Studies have linked the high alcohol content of some mouthwashes to oral cancer. Now Oral Cancer Prevention International (OCPI), a New York company, has filed a law suit in New Jersey claiming that Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's biggest companies, interfered with a distribution contract it had for the test as it did not want to lend credence to the link between mouthwash and the disease.
According to the lawsuit, in February 2010 OCPI signed a contract with a company called OraPharma – which was then a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson – to distribute its cancer test, called the Oral CDx Brush Test. The test is designed to identify pre-cancerous cells in people's mouths.
However OCPI alleges that Johnson & Johnson grew "extremely concerned about the implications" of an Australian study that linked mouthwashes to cancer.
OCPI said that the multi-national did not want to "lend credence to the link between Listerine and oral cancer" by selling both products. The company went on to allege that Johnson & Johnson "induced OraPharma to breach the sales agreement" to suppress sales of the test "in order to protect sales of its mouthwash, Listerine".
[LMK START] Johnson & Johnson has said: "The company is confident that we have engaged in proper business practices and we look forward to the opportunity to resolve this matter through the legal system."
OraPharma has since been sold by Johnson & Johnson. [LMK ENDS}