Johnson & Johnson Faces Another Lawsuit over Talcum Powder-Linked Cancer

Johnson & Johnson Faces Another Lawsuit over Talcum Powder-Linked Cancer
General Health

More than 2000 women have sued Johnson & Johnson over allegations that the company’s talcum powder has caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Another lawsuit has arisen in St. Louis, Missouri, accusing the pharmaceutical giant of negligent conduct in regards to the way it marketed its powder. Now yet another lawsuit is surfacing. [1]

The company has paid 2 women over $127 million earlier this year over the possible talcum powder-ovarian cancer link. However, 2 other cases were thrown out by a judge who said there wasn’t enough reliable evidence to link the talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson is appealing payouts made to these 2 women, but it isn’t looking good for the company.

John Beisner, Johnson & Johnson’s attorney, states that there is no direct link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, and that the science behind it is incredibly weak. He hopes to use this defense in the new cases that have arisen as well as in overturning the verdicts that have already found Johnson and Johnson guilty of negligence.

The newest case is being filed by a woman from Modesto, CA. Deborah Giannecchini, the plaintiff, is set to testify to the fact that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after using the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder for several years.

Giannecchini’s lawyer, Jim Onder, has told a CBS affiliate that Johnson & Johnson was aware that talcum powder could cause cancer and instead of ceasing to market the product, the company ramped up efforts to advertise to blacks and Hispanics, 2 groups that are most at risk for developing ovarian cancer.

“The internal documents show that as the medical community became aware that talc causes cancer, they (Johnson and Johnson) began target-marketing to blacks and hispanics, the two groups they knew were at risk and who were the highest user rates,” Onder said.

Onder added:

“Ovarian cancer is obviously a very deadly disease, a very painful and tortuous death unfortunately. It’s sad that these women have to needlessly suffer like this, simply because Johnson and Johnson wasn’t willing to put a warning on the label.” [2]

Johnson & Johnson reportedly released the following statement on the case:

“We recognize that women and families affected by ovarian cancer are searching for answers, and we deeply sympathize with everyone affected by this devastating disease. We are defending the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder because science, research, clinical evidence and decades of studies by medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.

Among the many studies that have confirmed the safety of talcum powder use, two widely-accepted, forward-looking, prospective cohort studies that included more than 130,000 women and were run over a long period of time – the Nurses’ Health Study by the Harvard School of Public Health published in 2000 and 2010 and the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort by the U.S. National Institutes of Health published in 2014 – found no association between talc use for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer.

Another forward-looking, prospective cohort study, The Sister Study, published just this year by researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, involved 50,884 women in the US and Puerto Rico and likewise found no association between talc use and ovarian cancer. In addition, no governmental or non-governmental authority has concluded that talc causes ovarian cancer.

Three previous cosmetic talc cases against Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. have gone to trial. In October 2013, a jury in Sioux Falls, SD declined to award damages to the plaintiff. In February 2016 and May 2016, juries in St. Louis granted verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs, going against decades of sound science and expert reviews on the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient. The company is appealing those verdicts.

A judge in New Jersey (United States) recently dismissed two cases that were set for trial in that state after finding that the plaintiffs’ experts who alleged Johnson’s Baby Powder caused ovarian cancer could not adequately support their theories, a decision that highlights the lack of scientific evidence behind plaintiffs’ allegations. The ruling was made after a two-week hearing specifically held to determine the sufficiency of the scientific evidence at the core of this litigation. The speculative theories put forward by plaintiffs in New Jersey are the same ones being used in all of the cases that have been filed around the United States.” [2]

This case is pivotal in the future of Johnson & Johnson. If the company loses yet another case, it could add even more pressure to settle cases directly with women who claim they have procured ovarian cancer through use of the talc products.


[1] Columbia Tribune

[2] CBS Local