North Carolina residents should know that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will now have to pay $417 million to a woman who brought a product liability lawsuit. She allegedly developed ovarian cancer from many years of daily application of the company’s talcum powder. The jury found that J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risks. This was the largest verdict of its kind against J&J, to date.
Approximately 5,000 people have sued the company over its cancer-causing talcum powder. Newer plaintiffs claim that J&J knew about the risks associated with the product. They paid out over $300 million in damages, yet continued to market the product without adequate warnings.
Talcum powder is present in baby powder, makeup and medicine, despite various studies that found a link between talc-based powders and ovarian cancer. Cosmetic-grade talc was banned in 1973, but there is no rule requiring cosmetic companies to have their products tested.
The FDA maintains that the dangers of developing ovarian cancer from using talcum powder daily for feminine hygiene is inconclusive. Consumers have also recently raised concerns about cosmetic-grade talc containing asbestos.
Four cosmetic-grade talc suppliers agreed to testing by the FDA in 2012. The FDA found no traces of asbestos, but it warned that the results may have failed to reveal asbestos-containing products due to the small selection of products tested.
This $417 million product liability lawsuit is just one of many that J&J is facing. The company intends to appeal the verdict as it has done previously. J&J continues to deny fault and has even launched a website dedicated to explaining the scientific and regulatory reviews that have found talc to be safe for use.
Source: Consumer Affairs, “The many women suing Johnson& Johnson: Johnson & Johnson is facing a seemingly endless line of lawsuits from female customers,” Amy Martyn, Aug. 30, 2017