A record $417M was recently awarded in a California jury talc trial to a woman dying of ovarian cancer. The plaintiff had been using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder on a daily basis for decades and alleged that the regular use of talc eventually led to her disease.
The plaintiff’s case was based on Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) failure to warn that the talc when used in the genital area may cause ovarian cancer. The plaintiff expressed that even if she did not live to receive compensation, she wanted women to be able to make an informed decision about their health.
Some internal J&J documents were presented that were previously unseen. Combined with other information brought forward at previous trials, the newly disclosed documents produced a valid argument that jurors clearly perceived as convincing evidence against J&J. A memo from 1964 written by J&J employees, told of the possibility of substituting cornstarch for talc in its baby powder products, as it was considered not harmful. It revealed previous knowledge by the company of the increasing link between the use of talc being unsafe when absorbed into the vagina.
In addition, documents dating as far back as 1996, were presented to the jury showing the condom industry had stopped dusting condoms with talc due to concerns about a potential link to ovarian cancer. The condom industry companies were not alone in their issues with talc. Generic brands of baby powder sold in discount stores such as Dollar Tree and Walmart now voluntarily have warning labels illustrating the possible link between cancer and talc.
National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive experience in product liability litigation, including talcum powder’s alleged link to ovarian cancer. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for anyone seeking legal information for potential lawsuits.
J&J Refutes Allegations
There have been more than 30 studies done over the past 35 years that associate talc and genital cancer. However, J&J has unfailingly alleged those studies about its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products are invalid, due to inconclusive proof and biased testimony.
J&J has spent millions lobbying and influencing areas of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was revealed that payments were made to previously perceived impartial Science Council members, who were declaring publicly that J&J talcum powder does not pose a cancer risk.
Also, a major blow rained down on J&J’s defense when a senior J&J epidemiologist was shown to have been sanctioned for perjury in another trial in North Carolina. There was a question about whether he retained notes pertaining to his expert report, which plaintiffs’ attorneys were permitted to show.
It was noted that every epidemiological study done over the last 35 years, other than one, showed an increased potential to some degree of a risk of ovarian cancer.
Talc is a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen and is often used in cosmetics and personal care products. Some women use talcum powder as part of their daily feminine hygiene routine as it absorbs moisture. Formerly, asbestos, which is a known carcinogen linked to lung cancer, was an impurity in talc. It has been banned in talc products for several decades.
Scientists in the 1970s found talc particles in ovarian tumors. In 1982, Daniel Cramer, a Harvard researcher reported a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. His study was followed by several more, finding an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who used talcum powder on a regular basis. Mr. Cramer at one point, advised J&J to include a warning on its products, but the company ignored his suggestion and allegedly suppressed his attempts to reveal the study data, declaring the research was flawed. Mr. Cramer has become a frequent expert witness for women involved in lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.
A pediatrician and environmental health expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Jennifer Lowry said, many pediatricians discourage the use of talcum powder on babies because the particles have the potential of causing breathing problems.
More than 22,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and 14,000 will die. The prime risk factors, include a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, mutations in the BRCA genes and age. One study included over 61,000 women followed for 12 years as part of the National Institutes of Health’s well-respected Women’s Health Initiative.
Legal Information and Advice for Talcum Powder Users
If you or someone you know has become ill related to a Johnson & Johnson talc-based product, you may be eligible for compensation. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact the personal injury lawyers at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).