Johnson & Johnson is facing a massive talcum powder lawsuit filed on behalf of 81 plaintiffs. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that the company failed to warn that use of talcum powder in the genital region could increase the risk of ovarian cancer. The suit represents women who developed ovarian cancer or family members of women who died of ovarian cancer.
Some women use J&J’s talcum powder products, such as Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower in their underwear or sanitary napkins for feminine hygiene. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that when talcum powder is used this way, the talc particles can reach the ovaries by traveling up the reproductive tract. They allege that the talc particles accumulate in the ovaries over time and trigger the type of inflammation that promotes cancer growth.
Many cosmetic products contain talc, which is a mineral composed of silicon, magnesium and oxygen. Talcum powder reduces friction easily because it absorbs excess moisture.
Plaintiffs in the litigation cite early studies to support their allegations. Specifically, they point to findings published in 1971, where researchers found talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. Lawsuits also cite a 1982 study linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer. During a talcum powder trial, an expert witness recently cited this study and told jurors that J&J should have warned of talcum powder cancer risks since 1982.
Talcum powder plaintiffs saw two large victories this year. Jurors awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. In another case, a woman diagnosed with endometrial and ovarian cancer was awarded $55 million.
The plaintiffs in the current lawsuit have similar allegations. One woman developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for many years, from 1985 to 2015. She alleges that the cancer is a result of “unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and [Johnson & Johnson’s] wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”
Another plaintiff alleges that talcum powder use led to ovarian cancer in his wife, who died. He alleges that if J&J had disclosed the risks, his wife would not have used talcum powder for feminine hygiene.