Johnson & Johnson Faces Continued Lawsuits Due to Talcum Powder Cancer Risk

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Since 1971, there have been studies linking the potential between ovarian cancer and talcum powder. Several studies have shown that when used near the genitals, talcum powder can travel to the ovaries and become embedded in ovarian tissue. Once there, talc can be very difficult for the body to remove which can result in inflammation eventually resulting in cancerous tumors.

Most talcum powder lawsuits allege that the manufacturers know that their talcum powder is contaminated with asbestos, which is known to cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, according to the FDA. It is alleged that with this information known to manufacturers, they concealed the dangers to the public. 

On December 3rd, 2019, Reuters released an in-depth special report revealing that Johnson & Johnson has known for decades that their baby powder products were contaminated with asbestos and that the company failed to notify the public.

According to the Reuters story, Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos during repeated tests between 1971 and 2003. In addition, the report cited numerous internal company documents that appear to verify that the company was aware of the dangers through documents disclosed during talc lawsuits.

As of 2020, both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society consider the use of talc-based cosmetic products near the genitals as a “risk factor” for ovarian cancer. Despite the decades of evidence, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and other manufacturers have not placed warning labels on their products on the potential risk.

Johnson & Johnson has denied all allegations of their product being dangerous and continues to state their baby powder and other talc-based cosmetics are completely safe for use. They state on their website that “Today, talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world.”

Despite the denials by Johnson & Johnson, the court cases and FDA intervention persist.

In March 2019, a jury in California found a verdict in favor of Teresa Leavitt, according to ABC News,  she claimed that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products caused her mesothelioma. In August of 2017, she received a diagnosis of mesothelioma after using the Johnson & Johnson product for over 30 years.

Later the same year, on October 18, 2019, Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall for one lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration test resulted in traces of chrysotile asbestos testing positive in the products.

And in January of 2020, Johnson & Johnson abruptly settled the case of Linda O’Hagan’s case claims that asbestos-laced baby powder caused her cancer before a California jury got a chance to consider the allegations in one of the dozens of cases to go to trial according to the Los Angeles Times.

As of October 15, 2019, Johnson & Johnson faces 13,730 cases consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Hundreds more are pending in state courts. Despite this, more cases are likely to continue to be filed in the foreseeable future.

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