A federal judge in Missouri ruled against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America’s motion to dismiss conspiracy claims in a lawsuit brought by the husband of a woman who died of ovarian cancer allegedly caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Body Powder.
United States District Judge Ronnie L. White of the Eastern District of Missouri denied the motion to dismiss conspiracy claims. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants conspired to misrepresent and suppress the truth about the dangers associated with regular use of talcum powder in the genital area through the following actions:
- The defendants formed the “Talc Interested Party Task Force” (TIPTF), which pooled resources to defend talc use and to prevent any type of regulation through biased research they funded and promulgated through scientific reports;
- They released false information about the safety of talc; and
- They used political and economic influence on regulators.
The widower’s lawsuit alleges these actions were part of an illegal effort to prevent consumers from learning about possible harmful effects of talc use.
Talcum powder is widely used to help keep skin dry and prevent rashes by absorbing moisture and reducing friction. But there is concern about an increased risk for ovarian cancer in women who regularly use talcum powder in the genital area, according to the American Cancer Society. Research has suggested that talcum powder particles—from powder applied directly to the genital area or used on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms—can travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovaries where the particles may cause an inflammatory response, resulting in conditions conducive to the growth of cancer cells.