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J&J Pulls Baby Powder off the Market

  • May 22, 2020
  • KBA Attorneys
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J&J Is Removing Talc Baby Powder from Shelves

Baby powder is a common household product used by millions of women around the world as a feminine hygiene product. Johnson & Johnson Inc.. will no longer sell baby powder. Plaintiffs have filed thousands of lawsuits over the past several years alleging baby powder causes ovarian cancer. Some believe baby powder causes cervical cancer too.

When talking about whether talcum powder causes cancer, it is necessary to differentiate between talc with asbestos and talc that’s asbestos-free, according to the American Cancer Society.1 It is widely accepted that talc with asbestos can cause lung cancer if inhaled, but these days only asbestos-free talc is used in consumer products like Baby Powder. Additional studies have made similar connections between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. One 2016 study2 reported a 44 percent increased risk for a type of ovarian cancer among African American women who used the powder on their genitals.

Organizations also offer conflicting information. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a specialized agency of the World Health Organization, warns that talc is “possibly3 carcinogenic to humans. The National Cancer Institute4, on the other hand, says “evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.” This is a complex issue, but concerns have increased over time.

Concerns about J&J’s baby powder have grown.

Johnson & Johnson recalled a batch of around 33,000 baby powder bottles after the FDA found traces of cancer-causing asbestos in the product. Lawsuits have been pending for years now. Some allege Johnson & Johnson pushed regulators to “redefine” asbestos within talcum powder. Earlier this year, a Florida jury ordered J&J to “pay $9 million to an 82-year-old woman who blamed asbestos-tainted talc for her cancer.” At the time, there were close to 20,000 lawsuits.

We expect more lawsuits. There is an MDL in New Jersey. U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in New Jersey presides.

The Judge ruled recently that the scientific evidence linking baby powder and cancer is sufficient to go to trial before a jury. J&J sought to exclude plaintiffs’ experts so they could not testify. This could have ended the litigation, but J&J lost. Now it faces tens of thousands of lawsuits. It has already lost millions in prior verdicts where juries found baby powder caused cancer, including a 37 million dollar verdict in New Jersey. Some plaintiffs have lost too. While some cases are over, there is still time to assert a claim for monetary compensation.

There may still be time to bring a claim.

Not everyone who uses baby powder will get cancer. People who have cancer and used baby powder did not necessarily get it because of the baby powder. Nonetheless, ovarian cancer has been linked to baby powder. Same link cervical cancer and baby powder as well. People who used baby powder on their genitalia areas, might consider bringing a claim.

Generally, people who used the product frequently for years and developed ovarian cancer, invasive fallopian tube cancer, or cervical cancer after age 21 may have viable claims. A pathology report would be necessary. Having a BRCA test may be important as well.

Some medical histories may be too difficult to justify bringing a lawsuit. If there has been no diagnosis of cancer, such as cysts, non-malignant tumors, fibroids, and pre-cancerous cells, that likely would not work. Various types of cancer besides ovarian and cervical are not likely viable as we understand the current science.

Finding help. 

You should speak with a doctor about any concerns regarding baby powder. If you used baby powder and had ovarian cancer or cervical cancer, you can consult with an attorney for free.

The attorneys at KBA have handled product liability suits for years. We have taken on talc cases from very early on and partner with many law firms leading the charge against J&J. We know what to look for and are here to help cancer survivors navigate the baby powder litigation labyrinth.