1,000+ Women Suing Johnson & Johnson for Alleged Cover Up
March 31, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
WASHINGTON – More than 1,000 women have joined a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) claiming the company failed to provide information about risks of ovarian cancer associated with the use of the company’s baby powder, Bloomberg reported.
The trial, which also includes Imerys Talc America, the biggest talc supplier in the country and the sole source of talc for J&J, is scheduled to begin April 11 in a St. Louis circuit court, Bloomberg said. At stake is billions of dollars in potential damages to the company that has provided products to so many homes across the United States. Since 2013, Johnson & Johnson has spent more than $5 billion to resolve several legal claims against its products. For decades many women have used Johnson & Johnson talc-based products in their underwear to keep fresh and prevent odor, which some are suggesting is a contributing factor to the development of ovarian cancer in women. In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer who blamed the company’s talc product for her disease. The company maintained the safety of the product, but the jury said the company knew about risks of talc when used in the area of the genitals and failed to warn consumers.
This wasn’t the first case in court associating the use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc with ovarian cancer. In 2013, a federal jury found that a North Dakota woman’s use of talc contributed to the development of ovarian cancer, but did not award any damages.
Bloomberg noted that in 1971, British researchers studied 13 ovarian tumors and discovered talc residue was “deeply embedded” in 10 of them. This was the first study to suggest a relationship between talc and ovarian cancer.
On its company website, Johnson & Johnson addresses its use of talc. The company said talc has a long and safe history of use and has been “accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products” by numerous health agencies. Johnson & Johnson said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has not identified talc as a risk factor for ovarian cancer.
“The Nurses’ Health Study (2010) and the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort (2014), the only two large-scale prospective studies looking at talc and ovarian cancer, found no causal relationship between talc and ovarian cancer,” Johnson & Johnson said on its website.
Among the scientific community there is no clear consensus on if talc is a contributing factor in the development of cancer. The American Cancer Society said it is not clear if products containing talcum powder increase cancer risk, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” CNN reported in February.
Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products are classified as cosmetics and do not have to undergo a review process by the FDA. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral used in a plethora of products, including various powders, such as baby powder. Johnson & Johnson maintains the talc it uses in it cosmetic products is of the highest grade and undergoes “a sophisticated battery of tests designed to ensure quality, safety, and compliance with all global standards.”
Cornstarch, which is used in a number of products manufactured by other companies, including Gold Bond, is touted as safer for the genital area.