In landmark verdicts this year two juries have found Johnson & Johnson liable for knowingly failing to warn customers that the company’s talcum powder products (including Shower-to-Shower and Johnson’s Baby Powder) have been linked to ovarian cancer in women.
First, in February 2016, a $72 million verdict was awarded to the family of a woman who died of the disease and, then again in May, a jury found against J&J and ordered the company to pay $55 million to Gloria Ristesund who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years.
Things could get worse for the world’s largest maker of health-care products founded by Robert Wood Johnson in 1887. J&J is currently accused in more than 1,200 lawsuits of ignoring studies linking its popular talcum powder products to ovarian cancer. In the complaints, women contend the company knew of the risk yet failed to warn customers of the potential side effects.
After the Ristesund verdict, the jury forewoman stated, “We felt like [J&J] knew for decades that they should have put a warning on this product.”
The studies at issue suggest that the iconic Johnson’s Baby Powder may increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer if she uses it regularly in the genital area. Internal J&J documents used at trial showed the company was aware of health concerns since the mid-1970s. Despite this possible link, J&J has not placed warnings about this risk on their products. In fact, a 1992 corporate document suggested targeting women who were high users of talcum powder to boost sales.
In a few cases, the cancer was studied using an electron microscope and was found to have talc in the tissue thus supporting the claim that the cancer was caused by the body powder. Notably, talc was found in Ms. Ristesund’s ovarian tissue after her hysterectomy.
If a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she should consider the duration of talc powder use and whether there was regular contact of the product to her genital area. Talcum powder may have been the cause of the cancer.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum or baby powder contact the lawyers at Paglialunga and Harris.