Baby powder made with talcum powder, or talc, is a commonly purchased item that can be found in the “baby aisle” at the supermarket. For many, the distinct smell and white bottle have become synonymous with the Johnson & Johnson brand.
However, as of late March, Johnson & Johnson faced nearly 20,000 lawsuits related to its talc-based body powder. Specifically, plaintiffs allege a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Despite unwavering efforts to defend the product in court, Johnson & Johnson announced this week that it would no longer distribute talc-based products in North America.
For decades, Johnson & Johnson advertised that talc-based body powder was pure and gentle enough for babies. In 1980, consumer advocates raised concerns about the product after trace amounts of a known carcinogen, asbestos, were found.
Early lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson claimed that talc caused ovarian cancer. Specifically, these lawsuits claimed that women who used talcum powder for perineal hygiene were at risk for developing ovarian cancer. Women have been the main purchasers of baby powder in recent decades.
Plaintiffs also allege that the manufacturers of the talc-based powder knew of the risks and failed to adequately warn consumers.
Reports and internal memos documenting the company’s knowledge of asbestos contamination have surfaced throughout several court investigations. Some of these reports date back 50 years. As a result, Johnson & Johnson now face inquires by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission in multiple states.
On May 19, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced it would no longer distribute baby powder to the U.S. and Canada.
Not surprisingly, the company’s decision follows a February jury verdict in New Jersey that awarded $750 million in punitive damages to four people who said the company’s baby powder gave them cancer.
Talc is a mineral made up of various elements including magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is ground to make talcum powder, which is used in baby powder and other talc-based products to absorb moisture.
Asbestos contamination can occur when talc is mined. Talc and asbestos are commonly found intermixed in the ground, so it’s possible for one to contaminate the other during the extraction process.
The regular use of talcum powder in female hygiene has prompted thousands of new lawsuits from women across the country. Additional lawsuits are likely to be filed against Johnson & Johnson, despite their recent effort to appease consumers.
Consumers have a right to be made aware of the risks associated with the products they purchase. And in this case, it’s very likely that Johnson & Johnson knew about the dangers but neglected to take corrective action.
In 2018, 22 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer won a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and were awarded $4.7 billion in compensation.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have used baby powder for perineal hygiene, please contact DeMayo Law Offices.
Compensation could include payment for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other related damages.
DeMayo Law Offices is a defective products law firm dedicated to the representation of injured individuals. With more than three decades of experience, we’ve recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.