Johnson & Johnson Faces Suits over Link between Talcum and Ovarian Cancer

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Since the first scientific study linked talcum powder products with an increased risk for cancer in 1982, evidence has continued to emerge that talcum-based hygiene products are especially dangerous for women. The most recent study to confirm that link was published in 2015. The 1982 study that first pointed at a link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer consisted of several case studies carried out over 30 years. It and later studies concluded that the use of talcum powder resulted in a 30% increase in the chance of developing ovarian cancer.

This preponderance of evidence of the link between ovarian cancers and talcum was a key argument made by plantiffs’ attorneys in recent suits against Johnson & Johnson. They allege that the company knew of the risk but continued to market talcum-based products, including their famed baby powders and a version of the powder marketed for adults as Shower to Shower.

In one talcum-related suit, Johnson & Johnson paid out $72 million to a plaintiff in Missouri in early 2015. They were also ordered to pay $127 million in damages in another suit that concluded in June of 2016. Further suits continue to trickle in. Johnson & Johnson currently faces two class action suits and a growing number of individual damage suits from consumers who regularly used the company’s talcum-based products and later developed reproductive cancers.

Diana Shinske of Tampa, Florida is one of those individual plaintiffs. Ms. Shinske developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder as part of her daily hygiene routines. Her attorneys argue that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the studies that demonstrated a linkage between talcum powders, especially when applied to the pelvic region, and ovarian cancer, and that the firm is thus liable for damages. Johnson & Johnson, her attorneys argue, marketed their baby powder and Shower to Shower products specifically to women, the group most likely to suffer harm through using them, prioritizing profits over the health of consumers.

The current lawsuits come on the heels of a slew of costly judgments against Johnson & Johnson. Several of the company’s medical devices and prescription drugs have been recalled in recent years. Johnson & Johnson produced recalled DePuy hip replacements, power morcellation devices linked to spreading reproductive cancers, trans-vaginal mesh devices that have caused internal bleeding and organ damage, and the drugs Risperdal, Invega, and Xarelto. The company also faced a huge recall of over 288 million items including the popular over-the-counter medications Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl due to concerns over improper manufacturing.