You may have heard of the large Johnson & Johnson verdicts in favor of plaintiffs who sued the pharmaceutical giant, claiming they were diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a result of using Johnson & Johnson baby powder with talc or Shower to Shower with talc. Although Johnson & Johnson continues to maintain their talcum powders are safe, some studies on the issue prove differently. It appears that when women use talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes, the tiny talc fibers can travel up to the ovaries, where they embed themselves, causing inflammation, and, eventually, ovarian cancer.
In 1971 researchers examined the ovaries taken from women with diagnosed ovarian cancer; the ovaries had numerous talc fibers embedded and were extremely inflamed. More recently, asbestos fibers were found in some J & J talcum powders, which were manufactured in China. Across the nation, there are currently as many as 20,000 pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson regarding baby powder ovarian cancer, and with the new charges of asbestos-related mesothelioma, that number could increase dramatically. A large number of the plaintiff verdicts in the talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits were later reversed, however, these reversals were not related to the scientific data, rather were related to venue issues and errors of law.
What are the Goals of the Plaintiffs in the Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Claims? The majority of the plaintiffs who are suing Johnson & Johnson want the products removed from the market. This is not to say they do not need—and deserve—compensation for their injuries, however, it is highly likely that the greater reason for the lawsuits is to force Johnson & Johnson to removed baby powder with talc and Shower to Shower with talc from the market. At the very minimum, these talcum powders should come with a warning for women to avoid using talcum powder in the perineal region, for feminine hygiene. Now that asbestos fibers have been found in some lots of baby powder with talc, that warning should also include keeping the powder away from the area where a baby could potentially inhale it.
UPDATE! On August 11, 2022, against shareholder consensus, Johnson & Johnson announced that it will be ending the sale of its talc-based baby powder in 2023.
According to Reuters, after the World Health Organization classified cosmetic talc as “possibly carcinogenic” when used in the genital region in 2006, Johnson & Johnson began looking for more ways to sell their product. The pharmaceutical giant chose to target two key groups of longtime users—African American women and overweight women. A J & J presentation told salespeople that “powder is still considered a relevant product among African American consumers,” and that “developed geographical areas with hot weather and higher African American populations,” were where they wanted the marketing focused.
J & J baby powder with talc samples were distributed throughout churches and beauty salons in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods and ran digital and print promotions with weight loss groups such as Weight Watchers. Since pediatricians began to warn parents of potential dangers of infants inhaling talc in the 1970s, adults have been the primary users of J & J baby powder with talc—specifically adult women. Reuters also revealed that J & J knew for decades that small amounts of asbestos were occasionally found in their baby powder with talc and Shower to Shower with talc yet failed to disclose this to regulators or the public.
It is important to remember that baby powder with talc is a cosmetic—there is absolutely no medical need for the product, yet J & J conditions parents with their “flagship” product from the moment parents leave the hospital with a new baby. And if hospital staff is giving you baby powder to take home with you, the feeling for most would be “how bad could it possibly be?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “pretty bad.”
Some of the strongest evidence used against J & J in these ovarian cancer lawsuits has been the internal documents that came from the California State court cases. These internal documents spell out how deceptive, manipulative, and morally bankrupt J & J has been regarding the decision-making process for their talc products. In one of those memos, a J & J official posed a question which has returned to haunt the company today—“If Johnson’s baby powder contained asbestos at a level of one percent, how much of the cancer-causing substance would a baby inhale when dusted with the powder?”
The answer to this question was that the baby’s exposure would be less than the legal limit for an asbestos miner—hardly a reassuring conclusion. Despite this, J & J has always maintained their talcum powders are asbestos-free. If the talcum powders never contained asbestos, one would wonder why officials were estimating potential exposure for a baby. With more than 175,000 pages of internal J & J documents, the litigation against J & J is expected to literally explode following the recent discovery of asbestos fibers in the talcum powder. Ovarian cancer is deadly and devastating, with many women diagnosed with the disease having nineteen rounds of chemotherapy.
Getting Help for Your Ovarian Cancer Talcum Powder Claim - If you are fighting ovarian cancer or mesothelioma you believe was caused by your use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, you could benefit from speaking to a knowledgeable talcum powder attorney who can comprehensively evaluate your claim, helping you determine whether a lawsuit is right for you, and ensuring all deadlines are properly met.