Court Rejects J&J Bid to Toss Talcum Powder Trial

A talcum powder lawsuit is currently on trial in St. Louis, Missouri. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a 63-year-old California woman who suffers from stage 4 ovarian cancer. She alleges that using talcum powder for feminine hygiene for 44 years has contributed to her cancer, and accuses J&J of failing to warn consumers.

J&J has attempted to have the trial postponed and dismissed. The company suffered significant losses earlier this year, when juries awarded verdicts of $72 million and $55 million to talcum powder plaintiffs. Court document show that J&J tried to postpone the trial, but the judge overseeing the litigation moved the case towards resolution. A week before the trial began, J&J tried to postpone the trial again by trying to move the case to federal court. This motion was also denied.

A week after trial proceedings began, J&J filed a motion for mistrial. Additionally, the company attempted more motions to transfer the case. These attempts were also denied.

J&J denies allegations that its talcum powder products, such as Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs in the litigation cite specific studies in order to support their claims. Lawsuits point to 1971 findings where research found talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors.

Recently, an expert witness for the plaintiffs told jurors that talcum powder products should have carried a warning since 1982. David C. Steinberg, who runs a cosmetic and topical over-the-counter drug compliance consulting firm, cited findings from a 1982 study suggesting talcum powder may be associated with ovarian cancer.

Steinberg also took issue with how J&J handled the prospect of talcum powder research on ovarian cancer. He commented on 1994 documents showing the company did not want to pay for these studies, stating it was the government’s responsibility. “If you want to be self-regulated, step up to the plate and pay for the studies,” he said, according to Law360. “If you don’t want to be self-regulated, then have the taxpayers pay for it. I don’t think you can have it both ways.”

The science behind talcum powder use and ovarian cancer is unclear. Plaintiffs allege that talcum powder used in the genital region can travel up the female reproductive tract and accumulate in the ovaries, which can lead to inflammation and promote cancer growth.

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