Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against talcum powder manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, by women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using body care products containing talcum powder or, in some cases, their loved ones. Despite the original findings and subsequent studies that have supported the original research, talc mining companies and Johnson & Johnson continue to argue against the connection citing insufficient evidence. The company has also managed to keep its product on the market without a warning for nearly half a century after the original discovery.

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What Talcum Powder Lawsuits Are There?

The lawsuits against Johson & Johnson have been pursued by women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder. They claimed that the company knew about the risks and failed to adequately warn people of them. During a trial against the company, an attorney for Johnson & Johnson admitted that the company had known about the risk of ovarian cancer, but had decided against putting a warning label on the packaging because the company had deemed the risk insignificant. 

Over $5 billion has been awarded to ovarian cancer lawsuit plaintiffs. In 2023, Johnson & Johnson is still receiving thousands of new lawsuits filed against them for the link between talcum powder and cancer. These lawsuits are a part of Johnson & Johnson’s ‘Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation’, 16-md-2738, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Trenton).

Why Did People File Talcum Powder Lawsuits?

Johnson & Johnson admitted that the company was aware of the link between talcum powder and cancer but viewed the risk as insignificant and neglected to warn consumers of the potential danger on the product’s label. At the same time, the company was increasing the marketing activities of its products, particularly in the African-American and Hispanic demographics.

Talcum powder cancer lawsuits are just the most recent in a long list of product liability lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson. Notable J&J medical injury lawsuits include those filed for injuries by medical devices such as transvaginal mesh, Bausch & Lomb contact lenses, hip replacement, and prescription drugs.

What Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlements Are There?

The first talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit was won against Johnson & Johnson in federal court in 2013. One of the leading experts in talcum-related cancer research, Dr. Daniel Cramer, testified on behalf of the plaintiff and suggested talc has been the cause of several ovarian cancers throughout the years. Since 2013, some lawsuits have resulted in large jury awards against Johnson & Johnson. Notable cases include:

  • 2016 – $72 million awarded to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for decades
  • 2016 – $55 million to a woman who required multiple surgeries, including a hysterectomy due to ovarian cancer
  • 2016 – $70 million award to a woman who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and who had used talcum powder for 40 years
  • 2017 – $417 million to a woman who developed terminal ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for several years
  • 2017 – $110 million to an ovarian cancer patient who had used talcum powder for 40 years
  • 2018 – A Missouri jury awarded $4.69 billion to a group of 22 women who were all diagnosed with ovarian cancer and who had used talcum powder products for several years

As of 2023, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay out a settlement of 8.9 billion dollars to thousands of users who claimed that talcum powder gave them cancer.

What Is Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder is a powdered form of talc, magnesium silicate which is mined from naturally-occurring deposits in certain areas of the U.S. and around the world. Made up of minerals such as silicon and magnesium, talcum powder absorbs moisture and is commonly used in beauty products to manage oily skin. Talcum powder exists in numerous cosmetic products, from baby powder to makeup. Millions of women have used products containing talcum powder over the years.

Who Manufactures Talcum Powder?

According to the FDA, talc, or talcum powder isn’t directly manufactured by a single source. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the Earth and sold to cosmetic companies such as Johnson & Johnson for its use in products such as baby powder.

When Was Talcum Powder Invented?

While talc itself has existed on the Earth for centuries, talcum powder was not picked up by corporations until 1894. The powder was used as a diaper rash powder for babies or to dry out skin infections that would worsen when exposed to moisture. For over a century, many adults have chosen baby products with talcum powder under the assumption that it could be gentler on the body. However, many people have made claims against Johnson and & Johnson that the talcum powder had cancer-causing properties.

How Does Talcum Powder Work?

Used to prevent skin irritation or excessive moisture, talcum powder adds softness to skin products to help it feel more gentle. Manufacturers crush and mill the minerals from the Earth and grind them down until they create a soft, smooth powder. The mineral has been used for centuries to absorb unwanted moisture and create a shine on the skin or everyday products.

What Is the Difference Between Talc and Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder is made from talc. Not all talc is talcum powder, but all talcum powder contains talc. Talc is used in a wide variety of industries. These include:

  • Ceramics
  • Cosmetics
  • Electric cable
  • Food
  • Paint
  • Paper-making
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Rubber

Talcum powder can be found in a variety of cosmetics products, including baby powder. It’s also included in:

  • Lipstick
  • Mascara
  • Face powder
  • Blush
  • Eye shadow
  • Foundation

Why Do People Use Talcum Powder?

The talcum powder is what gives cosmetics a silky feel. It’s also present to help absorb moisture and prevent makeup products from caking. Talcum powder was also used by itself to absorb moisture in the body. Women would sprinkle the powder on their bodies to absorb moisture and to also mask any body odors.

Does Talc Have Abestos in It?

Not all talc contains asbestos, but some, even the talc that is used in cosmetics, could be contaminated with asbestos. Johnson & Johnson had to recall 33,000 bottles of baby powder in 2019 because they were found to have small amounts of asbestos in them.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a fibrous material that is made up of very thin fibers that are like needles. It is used to both strengthen and fireproof other materials. Once a link between asbestos and cancer was established, manufacturers began refining their talcum powder products to ensure that they were “asbestos-free.” However, asbestos is also known to cause some cancers, including mesothelioma, and is banned in many countries.

What Is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the internal organs. It is a disease that is difficult to treat, and aggressive. Common symptoms seen in patients with mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Nausea 
  • Chest pain
  • Lumps of skin tissue near the abdomen

What Have Manufacturers Replaced Talcum Powder With?

Due to increasing pressure, most manufacturers have replaced the talc in their products with other absorbent powders such as cornstarch or arrowroot powder.

Can Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?

For more than 40 years there have been suspicions in the medical industry that the use of talcum powder is related to the development of cancer in the reproductive system. Though the development of ovarian cancer is likely dependent upon several factors, there is some evidence that talc particles may travel through the vagina and fallopian tubes and to the ovaries, increasing the risk for the development of ovarian cancer.

What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a disease that affects the female reproductive system. As cancer cells grow and multiply in the ovaries, healthy body tissue can be destroyed. With ovarian cancer, DNA mutations start to form together to form a tumor in a woman’s ovaries.

What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include pain in the pelvic area, back pain, chronic fatigue, abdominal swelling, and changes in bowel habits. If you suspect you are experiencing ovarian cancer, always reach out to a medical provider for professional testing and diagnosis.

What Are the Types of Ovarian Cancer?

There are three different types of ovarian cancer: epithelial, stromal, and germ-cell tumors.

What Is an Epithelial Tumor?

As the most common type of ovarian cancer, an epithelial tumor is characterized by a lining over the fallopian tubes that cover the ovaries. There are four types of epithelial tumors, and your risk factor depends on your age, family history, and use of hormone-altering medications.

What Are the Symptoms of an Epithelial Tumor?

Symptoms of an epithelial tumor are a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, swelling, cramps, pelvic pain, or vomiting. Some people have also had vaginal bleeding present with an epithelial tumor.

What Is a Stromal Tumor?

Stromal tumors are a common variance of ovarian cancer that mainly affects women over the age of 50. In stromal tumor occurrences, unwanted cancer cells begin to alter the connective tissues in the ovaries that produce hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. When patients have a stromal tumor they end up producing an excessive amount of estrogen.

What Are the Symptoms of a Stromal Tumor?

The symptoms of a stromal tumor are primarily abnormal vaginal bleeding or excessive body hair growth. In some young girls, stromal tumors can also show signs through early menstruation.

What Is a Germ Cell Tumor?

Germ cell tumors form from reproductive cells in the ovaries or testicles. Not all germ cell tumors are cancerous, however, if they are they usually require treatment such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

What Are the Symptoms of a Germ Cell Tumor?

The symptoms of germ cell tumors are typically characterized by bloating, constipation, belly pain, fatigue, or the presence of unusual lumps in the reproductive region.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Ovarian Cancer?

Any woman of any age can develop ovarian cancer, but it’s most common in older women, typically between the ages of 50 and 60. The genes that can cause ovarian cancer are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, which also increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Other notable risk factors include:

  • Gene mutations (usually inherited)
  • Family history
  • Estrogen hormone replacement therapy
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause

Can I Prevent Ovarian Cancer?

There isn’t any way to prevent ovarian cancer. However, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing it. 

A medical counselor may recommend that you take a genetic test. If the test shows that you do have the genetic mutation that increases your risk of developing ovarian cancer, you could elect to pre-emptively have your ovaries surgically removed to prevent them from becoming cancerous.

Has Talcum Powder Been Recalled?

In May 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced that it was discontinuing its baby powder that contained talc in both the United States and Canada. The company did not issue a recall, instead discontinuing the product because of declining sales. Johnson & Johnson stood by the safety of its product, stating that changes in consumer purchasing habits caused by misinformation about the product’s links to cancer were to blame. The company continued to deny the allegations that the product was linked to cancer. 

As of 2023, however, Johnson & Johnson announced that they will discontinue talcum-based baby powder sales across the globe.

Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.


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