Talcum Powder Cancer Claims

J&J Slammed with $72M Verdict in Talcum Powder Cancer Case

On February 22, 2016, a jury in a St. Louis, MO state court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million ($10 million compensatory; $62 million punitive) to the family of Jacqueline Fox who died from ovarian cancer after using J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for 35 years for feminine hygiene. This is the first jury verdict in a baby powder case to result in monetary damages to a Plaintiff. In 2013 a federal court jury in South Dakota blamed J&J for a woman’s ovarian cancer but the jury declined to award any monetary damages to the plaintiff in that lawsuit.

The huge verdict was a clear sign the St. Louis jury felt J&J was at fault for Mrs. Fox’s cancer when it distributed its talc products with potential cancer risks but failed to include any consumer warnings as to the potential health risks. In fact, one of the jurors told reporters that he and other jurors were especially swayed by testimony from plaintiffs' medical experts and company documents showing J&J employees discussing talc powder's possible cancer risk. "The problem I had is that, according to inter-office documents, J&J was aware of the potential concerns,” according to juror Jerome Kendrick. He went on to say, “…it really looked like instead of trying to investigate, they started talking about how to combat what would eventually be a court case."

Talcum Powder Linked to Ovarian Cancer

It is alleged that J&J conducted little or no research even though over 20 epidemiologic studies revealed an association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Studies have found that the powder may travel into the genital tract, causing inflammation. Allegedly, regular, long-term use of talc powder in the genital or perineal areas may double or triple the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The potential risk associated with talc was identified as early as 1971 when a study was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and authors found: “An extraction-replication technique was used to examine tissue from patients with ovarian and cervical tumors. In both conditions, talc particles were found deeply embedded within the tumor tissue. The close association of talc to the asbestos group of minerals is of interest.” In 2003, an analysis of 16 observational studies on the association between perineal talcum powder use and ovarian cancer found “a statistically significant result suggesting a 33% increased risk of ovarian cancer with perineal talc use.”

A 2010 study conducted by Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Margaret Gates and others found a positive association among postmenopausal women where regular use of talcum powder “was associated with a 24% increase in risk” in developing ovarian cancer. In 2013, Cancer Prevention Research published “Genital Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 8,525 Cases and 9,859 Controls.” It was found that “genital powder use was associated with a modest increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer relative to women who never used powder.”

The American Cancer Society reports that the risk of ovarian cancer may be increased with perineal talcum powder use and that research continues to determine the magnitude of the increased risk. Additionally, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, classifies the perineal use of talc-based body powder as possibly being carcinogenic to humans. IARC has listed talc-based baby powder as a carcinogen since 2010. J&J has denied any such link to ovarian cancer and still sells talc-based baby powder (as do other companies) without a warning label. This alleged negligence is what is at the heart of an emerging mass tort involving talcum powder.

Talcum Powder Litigation

To date, about 1,000 cases have been filed in Missouri, and an additional 200 in New Jersey against J&J. Trials in several other talc lawsuits have been set for later this year and thousands of cases are being investigated. The talc cases represent a relatively small portion of the tens of thousands of lawsuits J&J is facing over its many products. Currently, there are over 40,000 lawsuits pending against J&J and its subsidiary Ethicon over transvaginal mesh devices. J&J and its DePuy subsidiary also have faced tens of thousands of claims over its defective metal-on-metal hip systems in recent years.

Tampa Talcum Powder Attorneys

If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer after regularly using talcum powder for feminine hygiene, please contact Alley, Clark & Greiwe for a free case evaluation. For nearly 30 years, the attorneys at our firm have represented people seriously injured by pharmaceutical and medical devices.


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