Talcum Powder Lawsuit
For decades, millions of women have used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder and their Shower to Shower brand as part of a daily hygiene routine. Recent court documents, however, reveal Johnson & Johnson has been in possession of scientific studies indicating women who regularly use these products for hygienic use have higher rates of ovarian cancer diagnoses.
While Johnson & Johnson has denied this knowledge, a jury recently found them responsible in an ovarian cancer wrongful death lawsuit and awarded the plaintiff’s family $72 million dollars in damages.
Update: Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a U.S. jury on May 2, 2016 to pay $55 million to a woman who said that using the company’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene caused her to develop ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Wrongful Death Claims
For decades, women have used talcum powder for hygienic use and for the absorption moisture. Products like Shower to Shower are directly marketed for use on sensitive areas to help with discomfort.
However several published medical studies indicate there may be a direct link between using talcum-based powder for hygienic use and the development of ovarian cancer, with the increased risk possibly as high as 35% 6.
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral mostly composed of the elements of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. In powder form, talc is absorbent and helps cut down on friction 4, so it’s preferred for sensitive areas. But small talc particles can then travel to the ovaries, causing inflammation 1. Inflammatory cells have long been associated with the development of cancer.
As early as 1971, researchers were examining the presence of talc particles in ovarian cancer cells. A 1992 study found that women who applied talcum powder directly to their bodies on a daily basis had a significantly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer 2. Since then, several other studies have come to similar conclusions about the link between repeated use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Additionally, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a specialized agency of the World Health Organization, states that applying talc to sensitive areas is possibly carcinogenic to humans 3.
Johnson & Johnson’s Failure to Warn of Ovarian Cancer Risk
Despite decades of data highlighting talcum powder’s potential risk of ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson has consistently failed to warn its customers 7. The pharmaceutical giant has even gone so far as to say the research is inconclusive. As a result, multiple lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for not making its customers aware of the risks.
For the most part, the courts have not been on Johnson & Johnson’s side.
The first talcum powder lawsuit victory against the company was in 2013 in South Dakota. Deane Berg was a daily user of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for more than 30 years. She was eventually diagnosed with ovarian cancer and claimed Johnson & Johnson talcum powder was the cause. The jury found that the company was negligent for failing to warn its customers of a possible link with ovarian cancer.
In February 2016, a jury in St. Louis awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by Johnson & Johnson’s products 8. During the trial, lawyers of the deceased Jackie Fox claimed the company knew of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The attorneys even introduced an internal memo from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant in 1997 suggesting anyone who denies the risk is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
These cases are further evidence that there’s hope for those suffering from ovarian cancer caused by the use of talcum powder.