For almost a century, people have known of the dangers of using talcum powder. Historically, talcum powder has contained asbestos, a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). If inhaled, this asbestos-laden substance is linked to tumors and abnormal cell growth.
Not all talcum powder contains asbestos, but the effects of the substance could still be quite harmful. That’s why, in recent years, Johnson & Johnson has come under fire for the link between its product and many cases of ovarian cancer.
The Dangers of Talcum Powder: A Brief History
In the earliest days of rudimentary talcum powder research, it was discovered that talcum powder use carries dangers. In fact, as early as 1930, records of negative affects on human tissue were recorded.
In 1971, scientists noticed a correlation between ovarian cancer and use of talcum powder in the genital area. Upon further inspection, it was found that 75% of ovarian tumors contained talc particles.
Shortly after, in 1973, the FDA required commercial talcum powder to be asbestos-free. Even despite the elimination of asbestos in the personal care product, dangers were still reported. In the 1980s, it was determined that talcum powder could lead to illness - even death - in infants.
By the early 1990s, research proved that genital use of talcum powder did, in fact, lead to an increase in ovarian cancer. Animals were studied, and talc was found to cause tumors. Even a decade later, more and more research was conducted, proving that this substance caused as much as a 33 percent increase in the risk of ovarian cancer.
Put simply, the safety of talc has been in question for decades, and it’s been proven by scientists that the cosmetic product presents real dangers, particularly to women.
Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuits
As you have read, the dangers of talcum powder have been known for quite some time. Talc is a natural mineral that is often found with asbestos in nature. Despite this knowledge, Johnson & Johnson has been accused of not appropriately addressing the risk.
It has been found, in fact, that large corporations worked hard to cover up the truth about asbestos and talc. Johnson & Johnson was finally sued in 2009 by 49 year old Deane Berg after she was unfortunately diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Berg was offered a settlement, but she declined and sought further court involvement. In 2013, Berg won her case with a unanimous verdict.
Following Berg’s suit, there have been a number of individual and class action lawsuits filed against the pharmaceutical company. Over the years, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay billions in damages due to its alleged suppression of facts regarding the dangers of minerals used in its products.
The monetary amount paid in damages varies slightly from case to case. For instance, a group of 22 women in Missouri who filed action against Johnson & Johnson were awarded $4.7 billion in 2018. Jaqueline Fox was awarded $72 million in 2016. And Deane Berg was offered a settlement but, despite the unanimous verdict, she was not awarded monetary compensation.
Latest News on Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuit
As you may imagine, Johnson & Johnson has seen much scrutiny in the years following the initial talcum powder lawsuit. Because of the increased attention, the company has found itself the subject of national news broadcasts.
For those of you who are curious about the latest news on the Johnson & Johnson lawsuits, we’ve compiled headlines that you may have missed which pertain to the case.
During 2020, most Americans turned their attention to the coronavirus pandemic and other pressing issues facing the nation. However, lawsuits against the company continued to accumulate. Here is a summary of what has transpired in that time.
May 2020 - Amid billions of dollars of settlement payouts, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily ceases the sales of its talcum-based powder products in the United States.
Reasons cited by the company for the halt of sales include “changes in consumer habits,” “misinformation around the safety of the product,”and “a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
Johnson & Johnson maintains the safety of its products and calls news reports surrounding it’s talcum powder “false and inflammatory.”
October 2020 - Following a hiatus in litigation due to the coronavirus pandemic, Johnson & Johnson re-enters the news scene with settlement agreements.
The company agrees to pay $100 million in settlements to resolve 1,000 lawsuits. This still leaves over 20,000 lawsuits pending. Johnson & Johnson still maintains the safety of its products, claiming that they do not contain asbestos and do not cause cancer.
February 2021 - Johnson & Johnson, faced with over 25,000 lawsuits, reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission that they have set aside $3.9 billion for litigation expenses.
Despite this precautionary move, and despite its removal from store shelves, the company still defends the safety of its products.
July 2021 - The National Council of Negro Women files a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the company’s marketing targeted black woman more than other demographics.
Johnson & Johnson releases a statement asserting that “the idea that [the] Company would purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd.”
August 2021 - Overwhelmed with the growing number of lawsuits pending against the drug company, Johnson & Johnson seeks to separate its business accounts from its talc-related liabilities.
The court agrees to allow this separation, paving the way for the pharmaceutical powerhouse to place these pending lawsuits under a chapter 11 bankruptcy.
October 2021 - Johnson & Johnson faces 40,000 lawsuits regarding its baby powder products. The company announces that it will be exploring chapter 11 bankruptcy as a means to dispose of these cases.
While the company has, to this date, spent almost $1 billion in defense, it still defends the safety of its products, asserting that the claims have no merit.
The financial hardship comes despite the success of its FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination, which was made available under Emergency Use Authorization in February of 2021.
Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuits Today
As you can see, lawsuits — both individual and class action — against Johnson & Johnson are ongoing and are not likely to slow down in the near future. The pharmaceutical company continues to defend its product yet also continues to settle suits against them.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a disease associated with Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, such as ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, you have options.
First, you may choose to join a class action lawsuit. Whether you have been diagnosed with a disease or not, you can join this type of lawsuit to recover the cost of the product.
Secondly, you may choose to file an individual lawsuit against the company. Those who have experienced medical hardship, lost wages, pain and suffering and financial burden as a result of the product and health conditions it has caused may be entitled to more compensation.
Contact an experienced attorney to determine which course of action is right for your unique experience and medical history.