Faced with thousands of lawsuits involving ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other cancer diagnoses allegedly caused by exposure to its talc-based baby powder products, Johnson & Johnson has opted to settle some of the lawsuits before going to trial or while proceedings were already underway. Most recently, following several weeks of trial in California state court, J&J agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle a talcum powder lawsuit brought by a woman who alleged that she was diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by her exposure to asbestos particles in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, ovarian cancer or another type of cancer and you believe J&J’s talcum powder to be the cause, consult an experienced talcum powder cancer attorney as soon as you can to find out if you may be eligible for compensation from the pharmaceutical company.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the earth, and because it can absorb moisture well, prevent friction and improve the feel of a product, talc is used in many cosmetic products, from baby powder to blush. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, cosmetic products and ingredients are not required to undergo FDA review or approval before they can go on the market, which means baby powder products that contain talc are not subject to the same safety standards as other consumer products. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of consumers unwittingly being exposed to products that are contaminated with potentially hazardous substances, such as asbestos, a known carcinogen. According to the FDA, “Published scientific literature going back to the 1960s has suggested a possible association between the use of powders containing talc and the incidence of ovarian cancer.” In addition, the agency reports that “questions about the potential contamination of talc with asbestos have been raised since the 1970s.”
In recent years, women nationwide have taken Johnson & Johnson to court over concerns that its talcum powder products can cause cancer. This latest talcum powder trial, involving a lawsuit brought by Linda O’Hagan and her husband, Mark, began on December 2, and after the jury returned from a holiday break that started on December 20, the court announced that a settlement agreement had been reached between the two parties. Hagan’s case was being followed closely by other plaintiffs in the ongoing talcum powder litigation, due to the fact that she was presenting evidence similar to that which is expected to be presented in more than 17,000 other talcum powder lawsuits currently pending against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuits all involve similar allegations by women who accuse the pharmaceutical giant of failing to provide accurate warnings about the potential risk of cancer associated with asbestos and talc in its best-selling Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder products.
Not all talcum powder contains asbestos, but since talc and asbestos occur naturally together in the earth, some of the talc sourced for talcum powder can be contaminated with asbestos, which is known to cause mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissue that lines the lungs, heart, stomach and other organs. Although there are a growing number of lawsuits alleging that J&J talcum powder can increase the risk of mesothelioma in users, the majority of claims against J&J involve women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. According to women nationwide currently pursuing legal claims against J&J, their regular use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes caused them to develop ovarian cancer. New research published just last month indicates that women who inhale asbestos-containing talc products may also face an increased risk ovarian cancer.
Despite a growing body of research indicating that exposure to talcum powder can put users at risk for ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other potentially life-threatening side effects, Johnson & Johnson continues to defend its talcum powder products in court and has obtained defense verdicts in certain cases, including one that ended last month. However, there have also been massive plaintiff verdicts returned in several talcum powder trials where it was determined that J&J failed to warn about the risks associated with its talcum powder products. In September 2019, a New Jersey jury awarded $37.3 million in damages to four plaintiffs who were diagnosed with mesothelioma, after finding that J&J exposed each plaintiff to asbestos and failed to adequately warn about the dangers of its talcum powder products. In July 2018, a jury in St. Louis awarded nearly $4.7 billion to 22 women who alleged that J&J’s talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.
The risk associated with using J&J’s talcum powder products is that users may be unknowingly exposed to cancer from asbestos and talc in the powder. In October 2019, Johnson & Johnson stated in a company announcement that “Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos.” In the same breath, the company announced that it was recalling one lot of its Baby Powder, produced and distributed in 2018, after testing indicated that the talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos. According to another report released in December 2018, J&J knew for decades that its talcum powder products had occasionally tested positive for small amounts of asbestos over the years and went out of its way to keep this information from consumers and federal regulators, thereby exposing users to great harm.