Johnson & Johnson is facing over 300 lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allege that talcum powder products are to blame for their ovarian cancer. Court documents indicate that two plaintiffs have died while their cases were pending. In light of this, plaintiffs are asking the court to expedite their depositions in order to preserve their testimony. Women similarly allege that use of talcum powder in the genital region increased the risk of ovarian cancer. J&J allegedly failed to disclose this risk to consumers.
Talcum powder is often used in cosmetics because it absorbs excess moisture and reduces friction. Some women use J&J’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower in their underwear or sanitary napkins for feminine hygiene. The lawsuits allege that the fine talc particles can travel up the female reproductive tract and reach the ovaries, where they can build up over time and cause the type of inflammation that promotes cancer growth.
In a talcum powder case originally scheduled for trial this month in Georgia, attorneys for J&J argued for a stay in the proceedings. The plaintiff in the case argued against the stay because she is terminally ill, and fears she may not live long enough to see the case through. Although the judge granted the stay in proceedings, he also ordered the plaintiff’s deposition to be taken immediately in order to preserve her testimony.
Earlier this year, J&J suffered two large losses in court. Juries awarded verdicts of $72 million and $55 million to plaintiffs who developed ovarian cancer, allegedly due to talcum powder use.
Plaintiffs cite certain findings to support their allegations. Plaintiffs point to 1971 findings where researchers identified talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors.
Recently, jurors heard an expert testimony for the plaintiffs stating that J&J should have warned of cancer risks with talcum powder use as early as 1982.