Why Johnson & Johnson Is Losing the Talc Battle

Why Johnson & Johnson Is Losing the Talc BattleDeane Berg was the first woman to sue Johnson & Johnson when she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer after years of using their Baby Powder. Her lawsuit garnered attention, though she was awarded no damages. Her case turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg; J&J is now facing more than 1,200 lawsuits over the mineral, an ingredient in many of their cosmetic products that allegedly causes ovarian cancer.

Evidence is piling up

A controlled experiment to determine the relationship between genital talc use and ovarian cancer is impossible. Anatomically similar animals are hard to come by, and human experimentation is not an option. Unfortunately, this means that studies must remain observational and evidence may always be inconclusive. However, a causal relationship is highly suggested based on what we know so far, which, briefly stated, is:

  • In 1971, British researchers found talc particles deeply embedded in 10 out of 13 ovarian tumors, the first findings to potentially link the mineral to ovarian cancer.
  • In 1982, a study published in Cancer showed a statistically significant link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer.
  • In 1997, the US Food & Drug Administration addressed requests to ban medical glove powder and noted that talc was not acceptable because it is biologically non-absorbable. Further, talc minerals can travel through the genitourinary tract and crystallize, causing granulomas.
  • In 2014, the US Food & Drug Administration said it is plausible that talc “may elicit a foreign-body-type reaction and inflammatory response that, in some exposed women, may progress to epithelial cancers.”

Absence of proof is not proof of absence
From a public relations point of view, Johnson & Johnson is fighting an unwinnable case. The company has repeatedly ignored the talc problem, and continues to assert that the mineral is entirely safe. In reality, plaintiffs are winning massive verdicts because the company was aware of research that indicated a potential problem and failed to warn consumers of a possible risk.

A sone article in the New York Times puts it, “’Talcum powder is an interesting case, because it’s not something that’s necessary,’ said Dr. Anne McTiernan, an epidemiologist with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. ‘If there’s any doubt, why should anyone use it?’” Why, indeed? In the present, just the knowledge of a potential risk enables consumers to make an informed decision about talc products, but for the thousands of women who used talc daily and were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson is squarely to blame.

If you or your loved one has been injured or fallen ill because of a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. The experienced South Carolina dangerous product attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips LLC can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Call 803-327-7800 or contact us today for a free consultation.