J & J and Talc-the Lies, the Truth, and the Lawsuits

The recent Johnson & Johnson (J & J) talcum powder verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs have left many women across the nation anxious and scared. In February, the family of an Alabama woman won their wrongful death claim against J & J. The pharmaceutical giant was ordered to pay the family $72 million – $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages.

Just a few short months later, another woman was awarded $55 million in her personal injury case against J & J. Of that award, $5 million was designated as compensatory damages, while $50 million was designated as punitive damages. Despite these jury decisions against J & J, the company continues to claim that there is simply not sufficient evidence to prove that talcum powder, when used for feminine hygiene, can lead to ovarian cancer. They take that position despite more than two dozen scientific studies since 1971 indicating that use of talc-based powder products in the perineal region increases cancer risk of 33 percent or more.

Studies Supporting Talcum Powder Dangers

As far back as the early 1970s, researchers found talc fibers deeply embedded in ten out of the thirteen ovarian tissue samples they looked at. The samples were taken from women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Also in the early 1970s, an article was published in the journal The Lancet, which concluded “The potentially harmful effects of talc…in the ovary…should not be ignored.” A decade later, the journal Cancer published a study which concluded a statistical link between talcum powder used in the perineal area, and ovarian cancer. In 1992, the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study concluding the weekly use of baby powder for feminine hygiene could increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer by threefold. There are more than 20 additional studies that reached similar conclusions.

In 1994, the FDA was asked by the Cancer Prevention Coalition to require warnings on talcum powder products, yet the agency claimed there was insufficient evidence. It is important to note that the FDA does not regulate cosmetic products like talcum powder. J & J refused to issue the warnings voluntarily, and continued to market baby powder with talc despite the fact they were also selling baby powder with cornstarch—a product with no known hazards. Following 1997 and 1999 studies which concluded the use of talcum powder in the perineal area could result in an increase in ovarian cancer, a 2003 meta-analysis found perineal use of talcum powder could increase the risk of ovarian cancer by 33 percent. In 2006 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified talc as a 2B agent, meaning it is possibly carcinogenic to humans. There are studies as recent as 2016 which show the association, which continues to be studied.

First Lawsuit Filed Against Johnson & Johnson

The first lawsuit against J & J was filed in 2009 by a South Dakota physician’s assistant who received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2006 at 49 years old. She had used J & J baby powder with talc in the perineal area for decades. She sued J & J, claiming fraud, gross negligence and failure to warn. In 2013, J & J offered the South Dakota woman $1.3 million in an out-of-court settlement.

In return, J & J asked that the plaintiff drop all accusations. When she was told she would be required to sign a confidentiality clause, she refused, saying it was never about the money. Rather, she wanted women across the globe to realize how dangerous the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene really is. She went to trial, and although the jury decided in her favor, she was awarded no monetary compensation for her injuries.

Contact Us for a Talcum Powder Case Evaluation

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you used talcum powder on a regular basis, contact our firm today. One of our experienced nationwide product liability attorneys will evaluate your case and help you determine if you are entitled to compensation. We have been in this litigation for more than three years and represent hundreds of women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after use of talcum powder.

We encourage you to contact Golomb Legaltoday to schedule a free evaluation of your potential case. We can be reached at (215) 278-4449. Our attorneys handle cases in Philadelphia and throughout the nation.