people are bringing lawsuits against the manufacturers of the powder
Johnson & Johnson Set to Appeal California Verdict. For as far back as people can remember, talcum powder has been seen as gentle, comforting and not in the least bit dangerous. But, in today’s courts, people are bringing lawsuits against the manufacturers of the powder claiming a link between talc products and ovarian cancer. One such manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), is now fighting close to 5,000 lawsuits, and the numbers only look to grow.
A jury in California awarded a 63-year old woman $417 million based on allegations she used J&J body powder all her life as a part of her feminine hygiene regimen and developed ovarian cancer. This was a significantsetback for J&J, which hoped its luck would change after a mistrial occurred in a similar case in Missouri.
Importantly, J&J is now eying a Supreme Court ruling which held that claimants can only bring lawsuits in the state where the alleged injury occurred. Up until now, most of the talc lawsuits were filed in Missouri, due to favorable outcomes. Making matters worse for Talc manufacturers is that some talc has been shown to contain asbestos, a proven carcinogen.
Talc is a mineral made of oxygen, silicon, and magnesium that is mined as a mineral deposit. Talc is often found near to be a type of asbestos called “asbestiform tremolite.” This is asbestos at its most dangerous when it is “friable” which means it is crumbly and easily inhaled.
However, talcum powders produced in the U.S. are now free from asbestos. This was not always the case. People who used talc prior to the early 80’s could have been exposed to asbestos. A study conducted in 1997 determined women who used Talcum powder as a feminine hygiene powder had a higher likelihood of ovarian cancer. The age group at the time was 20-79. This meant that many of the women would have been exposed to the talc-containing the asbestos. Taking this into account, the researchers still concluded a slightly elevated chance of ovarian cancer with asbestos-free talc.
For its part, J&J is fighting the notion that talcum powder causes cancer, and will appeal the California verdict, as well as a number of cases in Missouri, citing the Supreme Court ruling. Johnson and Johnson defend the use of talc pointing to its use throughout ancient Egyptian culture right up to present day. J&J contends that if you dig long enough, you can find cause and effect which will support any position. J&J Chooses to support the findingsof the “National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Editorial Board” which wrote in April2017, “The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.” J&J states flatly, “No government health authority has concluded that talc can cause ovarian cancer.” Johnson & Johnson points to numerous studies that can find no correlation between talc and ovarian cancer, and unashamedly defend their use of the mineral in their products today. As J&J points out.” Talc is accepted for use in countries around the world, including The United States, European Union, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Israel, South Africa, Turkey, and Indonesia.” The battle in the courts will go on.
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