Talcum powder, also commonly known as “baby powder,” has been used by mothers to help reduce diaper rash in their babies, as well as by women as a personal hygiene product, for generations. However, recent studies have linked the use of talcum powder in the genital area to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
In July 2018, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women claiming to have developed ovarian cancer from the use of the company’s talcum powder products. Since then, more women have come forward with their own stories about the potential negative side effects of talcum powder use.
Despite this, talcum powder products are still largely unregulated by the government, and manufacturers do not warn consumers of the potential link between talc-containing products and ovarian cancer, breaching the trust of consumers and creating a liability upon use.
What is Talcum Powder, and Why is it Dangerous?
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is commonly found as a main ingredient in products such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ Shower to Shower. According to the American Cancer Society, talcum powder is used to absorb moisture and reduce friction, as well as having cosmetic functionality in body and facial powders and feminine hygiene products.
Women who use (or have used) talcum powder products on a regular basis have been observed to have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. One study conducted by Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Margaret Gates found that regular use of talcum powder in the genital area could result in a nearly 24 percent increase in risk of developing ovarian cancer.
In a similar study, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified perineal use of talcum powder products as being “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” reinforcing the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Responses to Recent Verdicts in Talcum Powder Lawsuits
The $4.7 billion verdict in the Johnson & Johnson case has been highly publicized not only for its jaw-dropping monetary value, but for the controversy surrounding the verdict as well. The plaintiffs alleged that Johnson & Johnson (and other talcum powder product manufacturers) had systematically covered up the dangers of talcum powder since at least the 1980s, and also observed traces of asbestos in talcum products after asbestos-containing products were supposedly phased out during the 1970s.
In the past decade alone, thousands of women have come forward with their stories over concerns that talcum powder products, such as baby powder, have caused irreparable harm stemming from habitual use of these products during their lifetimes. Of the 22 plaintiffs named in the 2018 Johnson & Johnson case, six of them had died from ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder products by the time the verdict was delivered.
Following a similar $127 million verdict in 2016, Johnson & Johnson maintained its longstanding views on the safety of talc powder products, citing “30 years of studies by medical experts around the world, science, research and clinical evidence” as a means of proving that talcum powder products are safe for cosmetic use in women and babies alike.
To those who have been negatively impacted by talcum powder products, however, this appears to be a gross deflection of a bigger issue—the livelihood of their consumers. As such, many former plaintiffs have felt betrayed by a company that has been a part of their families for over a century, and Johnson & Johnson continues to find itself mired in controversy over claims of deception and negligence.
Contact an Experienced Talcum Powder Attorney
Any company who creates a product for consumer use has a duty to ensure that their product is safe when used as intended. When this duty is breached—or ignored—countless lives can be put in danger due to potential health risks and unintended side effects of use.
In the case of talcum powder products, which have been used in childcare and personal hygiene for decades, failing to warn consumers of potential product danger is not only frowned upon—it can warrant legal action as well.
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, years of national experience with product liability and high-stake litigation has helped us achieve results that count, especially when the health and wellbeing of consumers is involved.
If you or a loved one has been negatively impacted by the use of talcum powder in the past, you may be eligible for legal compensation for your injuries. For more information about talcum powder lawsuits or to discuss a potential claim you may have, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.