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Lawsuits Against J&J for Talc Baby Powder and Ovarian Cancer to Resume

  • April 12, 2023
  • kbaattorneystg
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For decades, women used baby powder near their genitals. Studies have show talc in baby powder causes ovarian cancer. Many Plaintiffs won verdicts against J&J for millions of dollars. J&J tried to claim bankruptcy in a novel way. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals just negated those efforts. We expected lawsuits to resume.

Talcum Powder Linked to Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma

This is an informational piece on talcum powder. This powder is an ingredient in everyday household products such as baby powder. Asbestos can contaminate talcum Powder. Unfortunately, asbestos is a carcinogen – a substance that increases the risk of cancer.

What is Talcum Powder?

We create talcum powder through mining and milling. This powder is found in various hygiene products, from makeup and deodorants to baby powder. Talc helps absorb moisture, making it an ideal ingredient to include in products designed to treat rashes and avoid friction.

Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder is the most well-known brand with talcum. Nonetheless, CVS, Rite Aid, and Family Dollar also included talc in theirs. Popular cosmetic brands such as Maybelline, Physician’s Formula, Nars, and Stila also manufacture talc-based products.

Risks Associated with Talcum Powder Products

The safety of talcum powder is controversial. One can find talc deposits near asbestos causing contamination. According to the Mesothelioma Guide, “[talc] exists in the same geographic areas as asbestos, which is another mineral…When they accidently mix together during mining, loose asbestos fibers can be caught in the process of turning talc into talcum powder.” Despite the widespread use of talc in many products, some studies have suggested that there may be a link between talc and several types of cancer, like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Speculations on a potential link between using powders containing talc and ovarian cancer date back to the 1960s. The Massachusetts Environmental Health Fact sheet on talc notes, “while studies conducted over the past 60 years have raised similar concerns, a specific link has not been established.” Even though a specific link has not been identified, the International Agency for Research on Cancer “classifies the perineal(genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Several studies have found a potential link between the use of talc powders and mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. A 2014 study identified a possible connection between the accidental inhalation of talc-based powders to mesotheliomas in women. It noted, “ it has been reported that cosmetic talcum was contaminated with asbestos, and that asbestos was found in the mines from which the talc originated. Our findings indicate that historic talcum powder exposure is a causative factor in the development.”

Inhaling talcum powder is one risk. Another is ovarian cancer. Routine use of talcum-based powders on the genitals can cause ovarian cancer. A 2016 study by the African American Cancer Epidemiology found that “Users of genital powder were shown to have greater than a 40% increased risk of EOC compared with an increased risk of more than 30% among those who used only nongenital powder.

Injured Parties Are Filing Lawsuits Against Johnson and Johnson

In recent years, Johnson and Johnson(J&J) has had nearly 40,000 lawsuits filed against them for the talc in products, resulting in users developing ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. In response to many of these lawsuits, J&J has denied these claims and stated that they “remain steadfastly confident in the safety of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Reuters did an investigation in 2018 into J&J and their talc-based products. During this investigation, Reuters reviewed some of J&J’s internal files and lab tests, and the findings were concerning. Despite J&J’s claims that their products were safe, “Internal company testimony and other evidence shows that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.” Reuters also mentioned that “while J&J’s testing methods improved over time, they have always had limitations that allow trace contaminants to go undetected and only a tiny fraction of the company’s talc is tested.

In the aftermath of this investigation, J&J has tried to quell the public mistrust of their products by voluntarily recalling a batch of their baby powder after finding small amounts of asbestos in one of the bottles. A USA Today article reported that “J&J… issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution,” noting that it found only “sub-trace levels” of chrysotile asbestos in a single bottle someone purchased from an online retailer.” The company recalled all bottles with Lot #22318RB.

In May 2020, Johnson and Johnson announced ended sales of talc baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. It will discontinue talc-based baby powder sales worldwide by 2023. J&J has been actively trying to avoid compensating thousands of affected individuals through loopholes, like filing for bankruptcy, which was blocked in court in late January 2023.

Drug Watch lists these talc products as being implicated in Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits:

  • Johnson’s Baby Powder;
  • Shower to Shower; and
  • Gold Bond No Mess Power Spray, Body Powder, and Extra Strength Body Powder.

KBA is Here to Help

KBA Attorneys have navigated product liability claims for decades. We have taken on talc cases from very early on and partner with many law firms leading the charge against J&J.

If you or a loved one suffered from ovarian cancer or mesothelioma from talc-based products, contact us. To learn more about our team and how we might be able to help you, contact our office by clicking here.