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Talcum Powder Defendants Lose Motion to Dismiss Conspiracy Claims

Jan 9, 2015

United States District Judge Ronnie L. White of the Eastern District of Missouri denied a motion to dismiss conspiracy claims against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America in a lawsuit filed by the husband of a woman who died of ovarian cancer allegedly caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Body Powder.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges that the defendants conspired to misrepresent and suppress the truth about the danger associated with the genital use of talcum powder by doing the following:

  • They formed the "Talc Interested Party Task Force" (TIPTF), which worked to pool resources to collectively defend talc use at all costs and to prevent regulation of any type through biased research they funded and promulgated through scientific reports;
  • They released false information about the safety of talc to the consuming public;
  • They used political and economic influence on regulatory bodies of talc.

The plaintiff's suit claims this was part of an effort to illegally prevent consumers from learning about the potential harmful effects of talc use.

Talcum powder is widely used because it absorbs moisture and helps reduce friction; it helps keep skin dry and prevents rashes. It is an ingredient in baby powder, adult body and facial powders. But there has been concern that women who apply talcum powder regularly to the genital area have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Research has suggested that talcum powder may cause cancer if the powder particles—from powder applied directly to the genital area or used on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms—travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. Talc particles that reach the ovaries may cause an inflammatory response, resulting in conditions conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

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