Talcum powder has been a consumer product used on babies and adults for years in households across the U.S. Although it was considered a harmless product, since 1971, talcum powder has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Specifically, Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been the focus of multiple complex litigation lawsuits from women who used these products.
What Is Talcum Powder and Why Is it Dangerous?
Talcum powder is found in a number of cosmetic products, including baby powder and adult body or facial powders. It is made from talc, a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. However, not all brands of baby powder contain talc. Many companies now make their products using cornstarch, arrowroot, and other natural ingredients with no known safety issues.
Talc absorbs moisture and helps cut down on friction, which keeps the skin dry and prevents rashes. Occasional use of talcum powder has not been conclusively proven to cause harm, but there is growing evidence that women who use talcum powder in the vaginal area on a regular basis face an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Research has found that talc can travel to the ovaries and cause inflammation, and talc particles have been found inside cancerous ovarian tissue in some patients.
A 2013 analysis of over 8,500 cases and 9,800 controls found a 25 percent increase in ovarian cancer among woman who regularly applied talcum powder to the genital area, even though there was no increase in risk among woman who applied powder only to other areas of the body.
Why Johnson & Johnson Is at the Center of the Lawsuits
Talcum powder products are manufactured by many different companies, but Johnson & Johnson is at the center of this controversy because Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower are the highest selling products of their type.
There is also evidence in the form of internal company documents indicating Johnson & Johnson was aware of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer risk as early as 1971 but tried to suppress this information and avoid responsibility. The company made no effort to warn or protect consumers of the risk and continued to market its products to adult women as a feminine hygiene aid.
In 2013, South Dakota resident Deane Berg won her claim against Johnson & Johnson. Berg had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 and used the company's baby powder for three decades. Her doctors provided evidence of the link between talcum powder usage and her cancer by stating that talc particles were embedded in her cancerous tissues. Berg was not awarded financial damages, but her cased paved the way for other litigation.
In February 2016, the survivors of Jacqueline Fox were awarded $72 million after proving a link between Johnson’s Baby Powder use and Fox's ovarian cancer. Fox passed away several months before the trial began, but her family members were committed to seeing the case through.
In May 2016, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $55 million to Gloria Ristesund. After using Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder for decades, Ristesund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent a hysterectomy and related surgeries, but her cancer is now in remission.
There are approximately 1,200 additional pending lawsuits related to talcum powder usage and ovarian cancer.
Are You Eligible to File a Claim?
Since talcum powder is not a prescription medication, the legal action against Johnson & Johnson is limited to a specific group of people. To be eligible for compensation, you must have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have used Johnson's Baby Powder in the genital area on daily basis for at least five years. A positive biopsy must show evidence of talcum powder usage, and you must not have a genetic disorder predisposing you to developing ovarian cancer, such as the BRCA1 gene or BRCA2 gene.
If the user of Johnson's Baby Powder has passed away, her surviving family members can file on her behalf. They will need to testify that she used Johnson's Baby Powder exclusively.
The skilled attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of patients who’ve been harmed by manufacturers who knowingly continued to distribute dangerous products. Schedule a free consultation at one of our six convenient office locations to learn how we can be of assistance. We can also be reached directly at 800.256.1050.