Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. multinational pharmaceutical company based in New Jersey, has lost another major lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who has claimed that the use of the company’s talcum powder over a long period resulted in ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson have inexplicably continued to deny any known link between their talc products and cancer despite many reputable scientific studies that have supported such a link.

The California lawsuit was filed by a 63 year old woman who alleged that prolonged use of the talc powder caused her to developed ovarian cancer. The court awarded the woman $417 million in damages. This is the third highest award for damages this year (2017). It  is certainly not the end of the story for Johnson & Johnson who face a further 5,500 lawsuits against them of a similar kind. It has already had to pay out substantial compensation payments to a group of women who filed a joint lawsuit against the company in St. Louis, Missouri as well as to a woman in Virginia. Johnson & Johnson are expected to appeal the recent decision.

What is known about talc and cancer

The story of the link between talc and cancer is similar to that of tobacco and lung cancer. There has been evidence that there was a link between the powder and ovarian cancer dating back almost 50 years. More than 20 serious scientific studies have concluded that the powder can cause ovarian cancer if there is prolonged contact with it. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral which in its earliest commercial form was associated with asbestos, a substance with similar chemical composition. When it was conclusively demonstrated that asbestos could cause certain cancers, especially mesothelioma, after prolonged inhalation of particles, talc was modified to exclude as much asbestos as possible. Commercial talcum powders, like those of Johnson & Johnson, have perfumes added to make them smell better.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer in women according to the National Cancer Institute and the fifth most common cause of fatalities in women. Less than 50% of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive more than five years after being diagnosed.

Johnson & Johnson’s claim

Johnson & Johnson claim that there is no conclusive scientific evidence that there is a link between asbestos free talc as is supplied in their products. They cite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had up to now failed to confirm a link between talc and ovarian cancer.

The lawsuits have established that the company was liable for the women’s cancer as it had failed to give adequate warnings on its products that there was a potential cancer risk. Even after the unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves in the last few lawsuits, the company still refuses to admit that there is a link and steadfastly refuses to put a warning on their products.

Johnson & Johnson is a major pharmaceutical and medical devices company with operations in 75 other countries. It was first established in 1886 and has since expanded with 60 subsidiaries. Although its baby powder and other talc products are best known, the company also produces many other well known brands such as Band Aid bandages, Tylenol medications, Neutrogena beauty products and Clean & Clear Facial wash, just to mention a few. The company has also faced lawsuits into health problems associated with its vaginal mesh implants. The two U.S. states of California and Washington accused the company of deception and a class action by 700 women in Australia is ongoing at the moment.

If you believe that you have developed ovarian cancer from the use of any commercially available talc products you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney cases to discuss your legal options.