Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson finds itself the subject of two class-action lawsuits filed in 2014, both of which claim the company is responsible for giving women ovarian cancer through its high-selling talcum powder products, Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
The class-action filings came one year after South Dakota resident Deane Berg won her legal claim that J&J was negligent because it did not warn her during three decades of Baby Powder use could put her at greater risk for developing ovarian cancer. Berg was diagnosed with that type of cancer in 2006.
Together, the litigation's point to increased scrutiny on how responsible J&J is for not warning consumers – primarily women – about the dangers of its talc-based powders.
Over many decades, women applied talc-based powders to dusted their private parts with talcum powders or sprinkled them on undergarments and sanitary pads to keep the groin area cool and comfortable and discourage the development of vaginal odors. Additionally, the reproductive tracts of many women were exposed to talcum powder via diaphragms sprinkled with the product or condoms that were coated with it.
Although there is some conflicting research, most published medical studies indicate that talc-based powders, when used by women long term to keep moisture, odor and chafing under control around their vagina, are associated with ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies is a subsidiary of J&J that researches, markets, distributes and sells consumer products aimed at mothers and babies. That includes Johnson's Baby Powder.
Stockton, Calif., resident Mona Estrada filed a class action in the Eastern District of California in April 14, charging Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.
Estrada used Baby Powder from about 1950 to 2013 but does not have ovarian cancer. According to her law firm, her claim was filed on behalf of her and other women.
She cited research conducted as early as 1961 that showed the harmful effects of talcum powder. She also cited a lengthy list of other studies that linked talc to ovarian cancer.
A month after Estrada's filing, Illinois resident Barbara Mihalich also filed a class-action claim against J&J and Johnson Consumer Companies. Her lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Illinois. Milalich claims that the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act and profited unjustly from its talcum powder products.
Her claim said she brought the legal action for herself and on behalf of "other similarly situated Illinois consumers" that bought Baby Powder.
Like Estrada, Mihalich was not diagnosed with ovarian cancer and does not claim any physical harm from the powder products.
Deane Berg, a South Dakota woman, used Johnson's Baby Powder and its Shower to Shower powder as a feminine hygiene product and to ease chafing virtually daily from 1975 to 2007, according to her lawsuit. In late 2006, a pelvic exam showed clotting blood in her ovaries, and more tests led to a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
In her claim against J&J, she said that talc – a key ingredient in Johnson's Baby Powder and in Shower to Shower – caused her cancer. She said J&J should have put a warning about the association of talc and ovarian cancer on the products, both of which women use to control odor and moisture in their vaginal areas.
Berg won her claim that the pharmaceutical company was negligent not to warn consumers about its talcum powder product dangers. Her victory, however, was a partial and Pyric one. The court sided ruled that J&J that it was not part of a conspiracy, and the jury decided the drug company did not have liability. The jury also awarded no financial damages in the case. Berg's appeal for damages was denied by Judge Karen E. Schreier.
Did you use talcum powder and develop ovarian cancer or another serious complication? Fill out our Free Case Review form to find out what legal options you may have.
- Ovarian Cancer
- Respiratory Issues
- Pelvic Pain
- Urinary Symptoms Despite the mounting evidence of serious health affects with genital use of talcum powder, major manufacturers of talcum powder products do not warn consumers of the potential dangers.
Lawyers across the country are reviewing potential cases of those who feel they were injured by talcum powder, an indication that manufacturers of these products can expect to see a lot more lawsuits filed against them.
- Mihalich v. Johnson & Johnson, and John & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. (2014, May 23). U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois. Case No. 3:14-cv-00600-MJR-SCW.
- Estrada v. Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. (2014, April 28). U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California. Case No. 2:14-cv-01051-TLN-KJN.
- Berg v. Johnson & Johnson, et al. (2009, Dec. 4). U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota, Southern Division. Case No. 4:09-cv-04179-KES.
- Talc And Carcinoma Of The Ovary And Cervix Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.14710528.1971.tb00267.x/abstract
- Cramer, D., Welch, W., Scully R. and Wojciechowski, C. (1982, July 15). Ovarian cancer and talc: a casecontrol study. PubMed. Abstract. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7083145#
- Terry, K., et al. (2013, August). Genital powder use and risk of ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766843/
- Huncharek, M., Geschwind, J., Kupelnick, B. (2003, March-April). Perineal application of cosmetic talc and risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: a metaanalysis of 11,933 subjects from sixteen observational studies. Abstract. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12820486
- The Associated Press. (2013, Oct. 3). Jury Ties J&J Talc Powder to Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.dddmag.com/news/2013/10/jurytiesjjtalcpowderovariancancer