Johnson & Johnson is facing many lawsuits alleging that its baby powder products, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, increased the risk of ovarian cancer. The company allegedly knew of data linking talcum powder products to cancer but failed to warn the public, lawsuits claim. As litigation continues to mount, it appears that two jury verdicts have harmed J&J’s reputation. J&J was ordered to pay $72 million and $55 million to talcum powder plaintiffs earlier this year.
The first jury verdict was issued in February. According to AdvertisingAge, J&J’s YouGov BrandIndex Buzz score has dropped by more than two-thirds since then, reaching the lowest it has been in three and a half years. The score represents the net percent of people who have heard something positive about the company less than those who have heard something negative. These individuals are tracked through surveys, and the way they heard something about the company could have been through a variety of means, including advertising, news or word of mouth.
Talcum powder litigation may also be affecting J&J sales, AdvertisingAge reports. For the first four weeks of April ending April 23, sales declined 5.7 percent. For the 12 weeks ended April 23, sales dropped 1.6 percent.
J&J said it was appealing the verdicts, and denies the allegations. The company maintains that its talcum powder products are safe to use.
Things may not improve for J&J anytime soon, as the company was recently hit with a third talcum powder verdict. A St. Louis jury awarded $70 million to a 62-year-old California woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer, allegedly due to using talcum powder for feminine hygiene for over forty years. The jury found that J&J failed to disclose data linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer and ignored studies throughout the years. J&J was hit with $65 million in punitive damages and ordered to pay 90 percent of $2.5 million in medical bills. For the first time, talc supplier Imerys Talc America has also been ordered to pay punitive damages totaling $2.3 million. J&J plans to appeal the verdict, Bloomberg reports.
More than 1,000 talcum powder lawsuits have been filed over talcum powder claims. Plaintiffs are hoping for an MDL, which is established when there are numerous lawsuits with the same basic allegations. In the talcum powder cases, plaintiffs commonly allege that talcum powder caused ovarian cancer and that J&J failed to adequately warn about this risk. Plaintiffs allege that the fine talc particles, when used for feminine hygiene, can travel up the female reproductive tract and accumulate in the ovaries, where they cause the type of inflammation that promotes cancer growth. Consolidating similar lawsuits to one court before one judge helps eliminate duplicate discovery, conserving court resources and making proceedings more efficient.
Plaintiffs cite a number of studies to support their allegations, including a 1971 study where researchers found talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors.