Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer: Juries Award $72 million and $55 million

This June, following a three week trial, a jury determined that Johnson & Johnson’s (“J&J”) talcum powder products caused a Missouri woman’s ovarian cancer and awarded her $55 million.  J&J is appealing the verdict.  In February 2016, another Missouri jury reached a verdict against J&J and awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer.

Closer to home, hundreds of women who used baby powder products containing talcum powder for feminine hygiene and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer have filed lawsuits in New Jersey.  The plaintiffs in these cases allege fraud, negligence, conspiracy and failure to warn about the cancer risks of talc against J&J, Imerys Talc America (the company that mines the talc and distributes talc to J&J) and Personal Care Products Council (the trade association responsible for representing the interests of the talc industry).

In November 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court centralized these talc based personal injury claims in Atlantic County so that all cases can be managed by one judge.  These cases center on the connection between perineal use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer in women.

The New Jersey Court website explains that talc: is a mineral mainly consisting of the elements magnesium, silicon and oxygen.  Talcum powder is made from talc.  It absorbs moisture and helps cut down on friction.  It is used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body powders.

​See http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/mass-tort/talc-powder/index.html)  Talc is the primary ingredient in Johnson’s Baby Powder and is one of the main ingredients of Shower to Shower powder.  These products have been marketed to women for many years as “safe” products for use on all body parts to maintain “soft” and “fresh” skin.

In 1971, a study conducted by Dr. W.J. Henderson found talc particles in ovarian tumors, indicating a possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.  In 1982 Dr. Daniel Cramer conducted the first epidemiological study which demonstrated that women who regularly used talcum powder on their genital areas had a 92% increased risk of ovarian cancer.  Since then, more than 20 additional studies have examined the causal link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.  All of these studies have shown an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who use talc in the perineal region.

Even after all of these studies, J&J has not placed warnings on its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.  Despite J&J’s knowledge of the years of scientific evidence demonstrating an increased risk of ovarian cancer associated with perineal use of talc, J&J refuses to take any preventative action.  Imerys placed a warning on the wholesale talc supplied to J&J beginning in 2006, but continued to sell the talc to J&J when it knew the intended use was for a product which could be very dangerous when used repeatedly for “personal hygiene”.

If you or someone close to you has developed ovarian cancer and you believe it may be due to personal use of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower talcum powders, you may be entitled to significant compensation.  Please contact our Personal Injury/Products Liability department at 732.363.0666, which is managed by senior partner, Edward B. Kasselman, Esq., for a free consultation.