There are more product liability lawsuits filed against prescription drug manufacturers than against all other industries combined. Under strict product liability laws, drug manufacturers may be held liable for ANY serious injuries or deaths caused by their products regardless of the care they took to prevent defects.

Hazardous waste presents serious problems not only to humans but to the environment as well. Environmental law matters are particularly complex, not only due to the maze of federal, state and local laws involved but also because these laws are often highly technical in nature.

Brent Cordell

Attorney at Law

Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury Trial Law

1 844 - 8LEGAL8 (1 844 853-4258)

Talcum Powder Linked to Cancer Risk


 
Talcum powder ovarian cancer link 

While the link between ovarian cancer and talc is still a matter of scientific controversy, a jury has recently ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to a South Dakota survivor of the disease. Another jury has awarded $72 million to relatives of an Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer. These are among several hundred current lawsuits claiming that regularly applying products like Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower to the genitals can cause cancer.

Talcum powder is made from talc, a magnesium silicate mineral that is similar in its properties to asbestos. As a fine powder it absorbs moisture and helps reduce friction, which makes it useful in keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes. It is widely used in variety of cosmetic products such as baby powder, adult body and facial powders, and a number of other consumer products. Baby powder is estimated to be an $18.8 million market in the U.S., according to the Statistic Brain Research Group.
Both asbestos and talc form tiny shards and can break off and imbed into parts of the body. If it is inhaled, these tiny particles can imbed into the lungs and cause respiratory difficulties. In animal tests it was shown to cause tumors after the animals had been forced to inhale it.

The use of talcum powder in personal hygeine products has been under scrutiny since the 1960s, when some brands were found to contain unacceptable levels of asbestos. Once the asbestos link was proven in the 1970s, all US manufacturers stopped using that particular form of talc and many began offering hygeine products based on cornstarch alongside their regular talc based powders. Corn starch is currently used by most US companies and has never been linked to lung cancer or mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson, a brand of talcum powder used in about 19% of US households, introduced a baby powder using cornstarch in the 1970s but continues to offer products that include talc and maintains that the substance is safe.

However, multiple studies suggest yet another link between talc and cancer: talcum powder used on the genital area can travel up the vagina and imbed itself into the pelvis. One research paper dating to the 1970s found talc particles in 75% of ovarian tumors that they treated.


Johnson & Johnson marketed both products for feminine hygiene, and in the 1980s it told The New York Times Magazine that 70 percent of baby powder users were adults. A 1988 ad for Shower to Shower said "just a sprinkle a day keeps odor away." Others reminded women: "Your body perspires in more places than just under your arms."
In the 1990s, even as the company acknowledged concerns in the health community, it considered increasing its marketing efforts to black and Hispanic women, who were already buying the product in high numbers.


 

In fact, J&J specifically targeted women in marketing materials for talcum powder, shaming them into using the products without warning them about the risks of perineal talc use. Generations of women have used Johnson & Johnson's talc-based Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powders for feminine hygiene purposes, applying the products to their underwear, sanitary napkins, diaphragms or genital area to maintain freshness and prevent vaginal odors.
According to a growing body of research, women who regularly dust their genital area with talcum powder products like Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower body powder may have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.  

 

Despite the mounting evidence of serious health affects with genital use of talcum powder, major manufacturers of talcum powder products do not warn consumers of the potential dangers.

 

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies is a subsidiary of J&J that researches, markets, distributes and sells consumer products aimed at mothers and babies. That includes Johnson's Baby Powder.

In April 2014, Mona Estrada filed a class action in the Eastern District of California charging Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., with violating consumers' legal remedies, violating the Unfair Competition law and business and professions code, negligence, and breach of implied warranty. Estrada claims "Johnson's Baby Powder is not safe" and that studies document that women who used talc-based powders on their genital area have a 33-percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who did not use the products. J&J knew the risks of its powder products that have talc as an ingredient and yet took no action to warn consumers like her of the dangers of using them as an odor stopper or to help with sweat or moisture.
Estrada used Baby Powder from about 1950 to 2013 but does not have ovarian cancer. According to her law firm, her claim was filed on behalf of her and other women. She cited research conducted as early as 1961 that showed the harmful effects of talcum powder, along with a lengthy list of other studies that linked talc to ovarian cancer.

A month after Estrada's filing, Barbara Mihalich also filed a class-action claim against J&J and Johnson Consumer Companies in the Southern District of Illinois. Milalich claims that the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act and profited unjustly from its talcum powder products.
Her claim said she brought the legal action for herself and on behalf of "other similarly situated Illinois consumers" that bought Baby Powder. Like Estrada, Mihalich was not diagnosed with ovarian cancer and does not claim any physical harm from the powder products.

Deane Berg, a South Dakota woman, used Johnson's Baby Powder and its Shower to Shower powder as a feminine hygiene product virtually daily from 1975 to 2007, according to her lawsuit. In late 2006, a pelvic exam showed clotting blood in her ovaries, and more tests led to a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. In her claim against J&J, she said that talc – a key ingredient in Johnson's Baby Powder and in Shower to Shower – caused her cancer. She said J&J should have put a warning about the association of talc and ovarian cancer on the products, both of which women use to control odor and moisture in their vaginal areas.
In Berg's case, cancerous tissues were removed from her body and examined by three doctors that found talc particles embedded in those tissues and concluded that talcum powder was the cause of her cancer. One of those doctors, Daniel Cramer of Harvard University, has studied the issue of talcum powder and ovarian cancer for three decades. In court testimony, he stated that talcum powder was likely a contributing factor in 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer annually.
Berg won her claim that the pharmaceutical company was negligent not to warn consumers about its talcum powder product dangers. Her victory, however, was a partial and Pyric one. The court sided ruled that J&J that it was not part of a conspiracy, and the jury decided the drug company did not have liability. The jury also awarded no financial damages in the case. Berg's appeal for damages was denied by Judge Karen E. Schreier.

In May 2016, State court jurors Monday awarded $5 million in compensation and $50 million in punitive damages to Gloria Ristesund, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J's talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years. Ristesund's cancer, after she underwent a hysterectomy, is in remission.

Jaqueline Fox died from advanced ovarian cancer in October 2015. Four months later, a jury in St. Louis concluded that talcum powder contributed to the development of the disease and that Johnson & Johnson was liable for negligence, conspiracy, and failure to warn women of the potential risk of using Baby Powder in the genital area. The verdict, decided by a 10-2 vote, included $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages, more than Fox's lawyers had recommended.

Lawyers across the country are reviewing potential cases of those who feel they were injured by talcum powder, an indication that manufacturers of these products can expect to see a lot more lawsuits filed against them.

Brent M. Cordell practices exclusively in the area of personal injury law. His number one focus is helping people with severe injuries get the legal representation they desire. Throughout his career, Mr. Cordell has helped thousands of injured people; if you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product or by the prescription use of a dangerous drug Brent Cordell can help you get the just compensation you deserve.

 
As of this time, there have been no large group settlements involving Talcum Powder. Litigation likes this takes many years to resolve, with teams of lawyers spending millions of dollars trying to determine exactly what occurred, and how it could have been prevented. Generally, large groups of settlements do not occur until such time as a few cases are tried before a jury, and the manufacturer is able to more thoroughly understand its financial risk. This in no way means you can wait to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit. Just the opposite, if you wait, you could permanently lose all of your rights, even if a settlement occurs in the future. This is because every state has time limitations in which you can file a lawsuit for any injuries that you have sustained or could sustain resulting from Talcum Powder.
 

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