J&J to Pay $72 Million in Baby Powder Cancer Verdict
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J&J to Pay $72 Million in Baby Powder Cancer Verdict

scales of justice Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was found liable for conspiracy, fraud and negligence in a baby powder cancer case involving the death of an Alabama woman. A Missouri state jury handed down a $72 million verdict to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who succumbed to ovarian cancer after using the defendant’s talc-based products Shower to Shower and Baby Powder for over 35 years.

The judgement includes $62 million in punitive damages in response to J&J’s alleged concealment of research that linked perineal talc use with ovarian cancer. While hundreds of other talc lawsuits are currently pending against J&J, this was the first case that resulted in damages for the plaintiffs.

The defendants face allegations of failing to warn consumers, regulatory agencies and the medical community about known carcinogenic effects of talcum powder, and placing emphasis on profits over safety.

Women who have been diagnosed with talcum powder ovarian cancer after using these products for intimate feminine hygiene are encouraged to reach out for legal assistance. The Sanders Firm product liability lawyers offer free consultations to those who would like to explore their rights to compensation through the courts.

No talcum powder cancer warning

Baby Powder remains an iconic product for Johnson & Johnson. The brand dates back more than a century, and has been promoted as “exceptionally pure and safe” for newborn babies. By the 1970’s, the company began actively marketing its Baby Powder and talc products to families and by 1985 nearly three-quarters of Baby Powder users were adults. A 1988 Shower to Shower TV ad promised “just a sprinkle a day keeps odor away,” marking J&J’s push for feminine hygiene use. However, the beloved products had no warnings regarding the hazards of talc powder cancer, leaving Americans in the dark about possible health risks.

During the trial of Jacqueline Fox, plaintiffs’ counsel introduced into evidence a company memo from a medical consultant at J&J stating that “anybody who denies (the) risks between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: ‘denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.'”

The Missouri jury foreman, Krista Smith, called J&J’s internal memos “decisive” for the panel, which reached their landmark $72 million verdict after only four hours of deliberations. “It was really clear they were hiding something,” Smith told reporters. “All they had to do was put a warning label on.”

According to attorneys for the Fox family, J&J was aware of the talcum powder cancer risk as early as the 1980s, but resorted to “lying” to regulatory agencies like the FDA, as well as the public.

While Johnson & Johnson will likely appeal the decision, the trial brought a growing controversy to a head, and sends a huge signal to J&J and other companies around the nation.

Does baby powder cause cancer?

The verdict against J&J provokes some legitimate questions about the safety of talcum powder – arguably one of America’s most ubiquitous personal care products. Over the years, several studies on baby powder ovarian cancer have been conducted with mixed results. Some have demonstrated no causal connection, while others have established a clear link.

In a 2007 research report published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, author E. Weiderpass writes that the comparative risks of ovarian cancer among talc users were standardized across eight studies, each of which indicated a 30–60 percent increase in risk.

A separate 2013 study found a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer with genital use of talcum powder based on case-control studies. The research, which included a pooled analysis of 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls, was published in the Journal Cancer Prevention Research. The study authors noted “no increase in risk among women who only reported non-genital powder use.”

Postmenopausal women are at greater risk for this most lethal form of gynecologic cancer, say researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health whose analysis included 66,028 women with 599 cases of invasive endometrial adenocarcinoma. Their 2010 ovarian cancer findings were first published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

How does talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?

  • Research suggests that using the product on sanitary napkins or around the genital area is key.
  • Talc’s fine mineral particles are thought to migrate through the vagina into the reproductive system.
  • Prolonged inflammation in the reproductive system can trigger cells to develop abnormally, leading to cancer in the fallopian tubes, ovarian tissue lining, or peritoneum.

Cosmetic products that contain talc

Blush:

  • Maybelline New York Expert Wear Blush – Gentle Rose 109EWBR-30
  • N.Y.C. New York Color Cheek Glow Powder Blush – West Side Wine 652A
  • NARS Blush – Torrid 4017

Eye Shadow:

  • Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner – Hazel Eyes 2222
  • Black Radiance Eyeshadow Quartet – Retro Chic 8805
  • Stilla Eye Shadow Trio – Venus S461-03
  • Dior 5-Colour Iridescent Eyeshadow – Petal Shine 809

Foundation:

  • Black Opal True Color Liquid Foundation – Heavenly Honey
  • Laura Mercier Foundation Powder – Number 2

Face Powder:

  • LA Colors Pressed Powder – Nude BPP320
  • Revlon Color Stay Pressed Powder – Fair 810
  • Cover Girl TruBlend Mineral Loose Mineral Powder – Translucent Fair 405
  • Physician’s Formula Summer Eclipse Bronzing & Shimmery Face Powder – Moonlight/Light Bronzer 3104
  • Wet n Wild Bronzer – Light/Medium 701
  • Iman Luxury Pressed Powder – Clay Medium Dark
  • Coty Air Spun Loose Face Powder – Translucent 070-24
  • Black Opal Color Fusion Powder – Mosaic Raspberry Bronzer
  • Black Radiance Pressed Powder – Rich Mahogany Acajou riche 8607B
  • Posner Finishing Touch Pressed Powder – Honey Beige 53124
  • N.Y.C.  New York Color Loose Face Powder – Translucent 741A
  • Almay Nearly Naked Loose Powder – Light/pale 100
  • Clinique Stay Matte Sheer Pressed Powder – Invisible Matte 101
  • BeneFit Hello Flawless Custom Powder Cover-Up for Face SPF 15 – Me Vain? Champagne 1B168
  • Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights Intermix Pressed Powder – Baked Stardust DL 106
  • Guerlain Meteorites Poudre de Perles Illuminating Perfecting Pressed Powder – Mythic Parfait 01
  • Urban Decay Baked Bronzer – Gilded

Body Powder:

  • Johnson’s Baby Powder
  • CVS Brand Baby Powder
  • Rite Aid Baby Powder
  • Anti Monkey Butt Powder
  • Assured Shower & Bath Absorbent Body Powder
  • Angel of Mine Baby Powder
  • Family Dollar Mild Baby Powder
  • Shower to Shower Morning Fresh Absorbent Body Powder

How to file a Johnson & Johnson lawsuit

After examining human studies on baby powder ovarian cancer, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified talc products as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” when used for feminine hygiene purposes.

Ample research-based evidence along with the stunning payout awarded by the Missouri jury sets an important precedent for similar cases across the nation. At present J&J is facing more than 131 talc claims in New Jersey, and another 1,000 lawsuits in Missouri state court. Two class action suits have also been brought by plaintiffs, neither of which has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but who cite talc research in their claim against J&J.

Additional trials are scheduled for 2016, and legal experts say it’s possible other juries will find that J&J sold a dangerous ingredient touted as a safe hygiene product. Further losses in court will not only have an enormous impact on the brand and credibility of J&J; it may also spur a wide scale baby powder cancer settlement to avoid costly litigation.

The Sanders Firm believes that all manufacturers owe a duty to adequately warn consumers about potential health risks associated with their products. When this basic responsibility is brushed aside in an effort to boost sales, victims have a right to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, emotional anguish, loss of consortium and the wrongful death of a loved one.

To learn more about filing a personal injury lawsuit in the wake of an ovarian cancer diagnosis, we invite you to call our offices at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.

Talcum powder and ovarian cancer: resources

  1. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Perineal Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer Perineal Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4200058/
  1. Cancer Prevention Research, Genital powder use and risk of ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766843/
  1. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Perineal Use of Talcum Powder and Endometrial Cancer Risk http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/19/5/1269.long
  1. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: Epidemiology Between a Rock and a Hard Place http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/9/dju260.full