Talcum powder usage is being linked to 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Talcum powder is a soft, white powder developed from talc, or magnesium silicate, a mineral composed primarily of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. When it is finely ground, talc absorbs moisture and helps reduce friction. These properties make made it widely used the ingredient in cosmetics, personal hygiene products, and many other common consumer goods.
Facts about Talcum Powder
A 2013 Journal of Cancer Prevention Research study showed that women who dusted their groin area with talcum powder had a 20-30% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who did not use talc products. Manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson knew of these risks and still have failed to warn consumers of the danger of talc powder. They continue to market its baby powder as a safe product for use in infants and women despite this growing body of evidence linking it to ovarian cancer.
During the court case of the Estate of Jacqueline Fox v. Johnson & Johnson, internal company memos from Johnson & Johnson medical consultants surfaced. The 1997 memo stated “anyone who denies [the] risks between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer would 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.”
Johnson & Johnson Knew the Dangers
Johnson & Johnson first learned of asbestos in talc since 1972. Many studies confirmed it and notified the company. Instead of discontinuing the product, the company rushed to perform their own studies to prove the experts wrong. Every expert showed asbestos, therefore, Johnson and Johnson created their own studies. However, they skewed the results. There wasn’t even enough in the sample to be an effective test. Plus, the study never used an electron microscope, which is the gold standard of testing.
Talcum Powder Risks
- Ovarian Cancer – 20-30% increased risk vs women who do not use talc products.
Jury Awards $417 Million Settlement
A Los Angeles jury awarded $417 million to a woman suffering from ovarian cancer. They found that the talc in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder Monday was responsible for her illness. Plus, the company “willfully and consciously disregarded the rights and safety of others”. Because of their gross negligence, the jury awarded Plaintiff Eva Echeverria $70 million dollars in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages for a total verdict of $417 million.
Talc Linked to Ovarian Cancer
Five other trials questioned the link between talc and ovarian cancer. In this case, in 2007, doctors diagnosed Plaintiff Eva Echeverria with ovarian cancer. She had used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and shower products twice a day for over 40 years. This is the first California case as most were tried in St. Louis, Missouri. In all cases, the jury found that Johnson & Johnson had decades of knowledge linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Yet, they did not warn consumers.
During the trial, internal documents surfaced, which show Johnson & Johnson acknowledged there are safer alternatives to their products. There were also warnings from the company’s own lobbyists. They told the company of numerous studies showing a link between genital use and ovarian cancer.
A St. Louis jury awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman with ovarian cancer. Three other St. Louis juries came to similar conclusions. They awarded $300 million to other plaintiffs.
Types of Ovarian Cancer
The most common ovarian cancer types associated with talcum powder are Epithelial Ovarian Cancer, Primary peritoneal, Fallopian tube, this also includes:
- Serous 90%
- Clear cell
- Borderline tumors
Previous Talcum Powder Lawsuits
November 2013: No damages awarded
Johnson & Johnson offered an out-of-court settlement for $1.3 million in exchange for the plaintiff signing a confidentiality agreement. In the agreement, the plaintiff would not be able to discuss the case. She refused and went to court, however even though the jury found the company liable, they declined to award damages.
February 2016: $72 million
This trial involved Jackie Fox. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer killed her before her trial ended. The jury was so enraged by the internal documents the plaintiff’s attorney uncovered that they awarded her estate $72 million. This included $62 million in punitive damages.
There were multiple documents from internal employees and talcum powder suppliers to Johnson & Johnson talking about concerns of public denial of ovarian cancer risks while using the powder along with unethical measures discussed to block the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) from categorizing talcum powder as a carcinogen. The talc supplier, Luzenac and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson both discussed threatening the IARC with significant economic ramifications if did, in fact, follow through with the carcinogen labeling.
May 2016: $55 million
Gloria Ristesund received a $55 million settlement with $50 million in punitive damages. The defense chose Ristesund’s case, but it blew up in their face. Prosecutors showed the marketing tool Johnson & Johnson used. The tool looked like a monopoly game board showing how to keep pushing talc to customers. They also presented a 1986 Johnson & Johnson internal document noting “retrospective studies have implicated talc use in the vaginal area with the incidence of ovarian cancer,” saying it was one of many documents showing the company internally recognized there was a risk while publicly denying it.
October 2016: $70 million
Another St. Louis jury reached a similar conclusion as the others. They awarded a $70 million verdict with $65 million in punitive damages to Deborah Giannecchini. Doctors diagnosed her with ovarian cancer in 2013. Giannecchini used talc on her genitals since 1967. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 after using J&J’s talcum powder for genital dusting since 1967.
Then, a spokesperson from the company insisted that a warning label wasn’t necessary. She went on to quote a 2014 FDA response to a Citizen’s Petition. The FDA said warning labels were not warranted on cosmetic talc products and no regulatory agency has ever required labeling to reflect a risk of ovarian cancer associated with talcum powder products. Yet, there are countless stories of the FDA being wrong.
March 2017: Defense verdict
In 2013, Doctors diagnosed plaintiff Nora Daniels. She used baby powder for over 30 years before getting ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, the jury found in favor of Johnson & Johnson. They delivered for seven hours. However, they couldn’t find a strong enough link between talc and ovarian cancer.
May 2017: $110 million
A different St. Louis jury found the link substantial. They awarded plaintiff Lois Slemp $105 million in punitive damages and $5.4 million in compensatory damages. Slemp testified that her whole family used the baby powder. Her mom even used it when her younger sister was in diapers. She also recalled seeing commercials in the 80s asking women to give themselves “a sprinkle a day”.
Like so many women, she said there were not any warnings on the package. If there were, she would not have used it. Stating that she never wanted cancer. Her ovarian tumors weakened her tremendously, especially the lining of her heart. So much so, she suffered a heart attack in early December. Because of the heart attack, she couldn’t undergo a necessary liver surgery. Instead, she had to have more chemotherapy putting her at risk for another heart attack.
Current Talc Litigation
In the United States District Court of New Jersey under Judge Wolfson, the litigation is heating up. There are almost 20,000 in the MDL. Currently, Judge Wolfson ruled on April 27, 2020, that there is enough information to support that talc powder could cause ovarian cancer. The judge would like a jury to decide. Bellwether trials are being scheduled for 2021.
There are also over 65 other cases pending in state courts around the country including Georgia, Illinois, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.
When manufacturers produce unsafe products that create pain and suffering, they deserve compensation. Although no amount of money will change the fact that you have suffered a serious injury as a result of manufacturer irresponsibility, compensation will help offset your current and future medical costs, as well as provide for the pain and suffering you have experienced. By filing, you may also help protect other women and their families from needless distress.
Speak to an Attorney Today
If talc injured you, you need an attorney with decades of experience going up against large pharmaceutical companies. The attorneys at the Michael Brady Lynch Firm know what it takes to go up against drug manufacturers to get clients what they need.
How We Can Help
When you experience side effects from a dangerous drug, it can have devastating effects on your entire life. A jury may award you compensation for your injuries and damages. Recoverable losses include:
If a person dies from complications from a drug, family members may be able to recover damages for the wrongful death of their loved one, including:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses prior to death
- Loss of economic support; and
- Loss of companionship
If the conduct of a drug company in manufacturing and selling drug is found to be highly reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the company and deter similar conduct in the future. If you developed complications after using talc, please speak to us to learn more about your rights.
Case evaluations are free of cost and without obligation. Call us today at (877) 513-9517 or contact us online to speak with an attorney about your options. We may be able to get you the help you need.
If you or someone you know has suffered an adverse event after using talcum powder, you may be eligible for compensation to ease the financial and emotional burdens you are experiencing. Contact us today to set up a free consultation, during which we will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have, and discuss your legal rights and options. If you choose us to represent you, we will work with you on a contingency fee basis; this means you pay nothing until we have secured compensation for you, either through a jury verdict or settlement.