J&J Talcum Powder Allegedly Caused Ovarian Cancer
Johnson & Johnson is facing another talcum powder ovarian cancer trial in St. Louis, where a number of lawsuits allege that the product contributed to ovarian cancer. The case is the fourth talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit to go to trial in state court, and the fifth to go to trial overall. The plaintiff, like others suing over talcum powder products such as Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, alleges that J&J failed to warn about the risks. Last year, the company was hit with three multimillion dollar verdicts involving talc cases.
The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm, which regularly provides talcum powder lawsuit updates, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 56-year-old woman from Tennessee. For 36 years, she used J&J’s Baby Powder in the genital region. In 2013, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, allegedly due to talcum powder use. J&J claims that her cancer is unrelated to talcum powder use. The plaintiff alleges J&J ignored studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer, and should have labeled its products to inform consumers about the risks.
The trial was slated to begin on Feb. 6. According to Courtroom View Network (CVN), however, the trial was delayed because a plaintiff’s attorney suffered medical issues during opening statements. As such, the judge ordered selection of a new jury. Opening statements are expected to begin shortly, CVN reports.
Talc-based products such as baby powder reduce friction and absorb moisture. Talc is therefore used in a number of personal hygiene and cosmetic products, including adult body and facial powders. As a baby power, talc helps prevent diaper rash. The talcum powder litigation stems from genital use; some women sprinkle the product in their underwear or on sanitary napkins for feminine hygiene.
Talcum powder lawsuits allege that genital use of talcum powder can increase the risk of ovarian cancer, claiming that the fine talc particles can travel up the female reproductive tract. Plaintiffs cite studies to support these allegations, and claim that J&J should have warned of the issue. For example, lawsuits refer to 1971 findings where researchers discussed talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. Plaintiffs also cite a 1982 study as evidence that genital use of talcum powder is related to ovarian cancer.
J&J faced substantial losses related to talcum powder ovarian cancer cases in 2016. Juries handed down three verdicts in favor of plaintiffs totaling $72 million, $55 million and $70 million.
Talcum powder litigation continues to mount in St. Louis and elsewhere. Talcum powder ovarian cancer cases have been consolidated in New Jersey state and federal court, and lawsuits have been centralized in Los Angeles state court. According to CVN, the first talcum powder ovarian cancer case is scheduled for trial in California this July.
U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson is presiding over the talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey. When there are a number of lawsuits with common questions of fact, sometimes the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will consolidate cases into an MDL. This type of mass tort transfers similar lawsuits to one court before one judge, making legal proceedings more efficient. MDLs eliminate duplicate discovery and conserve court resources.
According to court documents, class action lawsuits are also being filed over talcum powder ovarian cancer claims. One complaint represents 81 plaintiffs who allege that the “unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and [Johnson & Johnson’s] wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”
According to Reuters, J&J tried to have thousands of talcum powder lawsuits transferred out of St. Louis state court. The Missouri Supreme Court denied the motion. There are roughly 2,500 talcum powder ovarian cancer claims pending there, Parker Waichman notes.
Recent Study Finds Association between Talc Products and Ovarian Cancer
Overall, research investigating the link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer has produced mixed results. Most cases of ovarian cancer are sporadic, meaning doctors are unable to identify exactly what caused it. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal among cancers of the female reproductive system. Doctors say precautions are important, given that there is no ovarian cancer screening. Since symptoms are vague, women with ovarian cancer are often not diagnosed until later stages.
A recent study published in the January 2017 issue of the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found an increased risk of ovarian cancer associated with talcum powder use. The study was a meta-analysis, meaning researchers analyzed data from previously published studies to draw new conclusions.
The lead researcher was Dr. Paolo Boffetta, associate director for cancer prevention at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and a former chief of environmental cancer epidemiology with the World Health Organization. He and his colleagues analyzed data from 24 previously published studies along with prospective studies involving 302,000 patients with ovarian cancer. The study found that talcum powder use was associated with a 20 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.
“Overall, it is about a 20 percent higher risk for women who say they used talc, compared to women who say they did not use it,” Boffetta said, according to Newsday. However, he cautioned that the findings are only correlational. The study does not prove that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. “It would be premature to conclude that talc use causes ovarian cancer,” he said.
Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology and vice-chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, commented “The whole issue of talcum powder is seen as a possible agent. We don’t have strong links. Anything that can get in the peritoneal cavity can increase the risk,” according to Newsday. “We discourage patients from using anything that increases irritation or inflammation.”
Questions about Talcum Powder Lawsuits?
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).