Houston Texas Lawyer Blog

Johnson & Johnson Stops Talcum Powder Sales. The Cancer It Causes Continues

May 29, 2020 Drug Injury

Johnson & Johnson will stop selling its talc-based baby powder in North America, the company announced on May 19. The product was once an essential part of the company’s sales and image. Now it’s the subject of about 19,400 lawsuits claiming it may have caused cancer.

Several juries have ruled against Johnson & Johnson. In one 2018 case, 22 plaintiffs were awarded $4.7 billion. The company has won other cases and is appealing nearly all of those it lost. If you or a loved one has suffered ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, you should discuss your legal options in a talcum powder case with the team at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant.

Talcum Powder Isn’t the Problem — Asbestos Is.

Talcum powder, a refined version of the mineral talc, may be contaminated with another mineral fiber — asbestos. This has long been associated with causing cancer. Damaging Johnson & Johnson memos and reports were released during litigation in past lawsuits. They show that company officials voiced concern for at least 50 years that there could be asbestos fibers in its talc.

These documents resulted in investigations by the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, congressional committees, and authorities in Mississippi and New Mexico.

Last year the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it found evidence of asbestos in a bottle purchased online. Johnson & Johnson then recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder but later said tests of that bottle came up clean.

The advocacy organization Environmental Working Group has asked cosmetics makers to stop using talc in loose powders. The group states that it commissioned tests which found asbestos in two eye shadow palettes made with talc; they were marketed to children and sold on Amazon. The FDA issued several warnings last year that asbestos had been discovered in several talc cosmetics products.

What Is Cancer? How Does it Work?

Cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the body mutate and malfunction. Instead of performing their natural function in an organ, a bone, or in blood, they rapidly reproduce. If the immune system can’t control this, tumors may form and spread. Without successful treatment, cancer acts as a parasite. It disrupts normal function and uses nutrients that should go to keeping the body healthy.

When asbestos fibers enter the body, the immune system can’t destroy them, and the fibers kill cells. Medical researchers have found that when this happens, it starts a process releasing a molecule that starts a type of inflammation, emitting chemicals that promote tumor growth.

The first medical study linking talc-based powders with ovarian cancer was published in 1971. Later studies showed that if the powder is used by women in their genital area, it can travel up the vagina to the ovaries. Asbestos fibers in the powder can lodge in tissue, possibly causing inflammation and cancer. This applies to women who used the product frequently and regularly, for extended periods.

Ovarian Cancer Facts and Figures

Treatment for ovarian cancer is based on the type, its stage, and the needs of the patient, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Most women with ovarian cancer will have surgery to remove the tumor. Depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is, there could be additional treatment. This includes chemotherapy or radiation, before or after surgery, and sometimes both.

Statistics concerning survival rates can help you understand the chances that treatment will be successful. They show what percentage of patients with the same type and stage of cancer are alive a given period of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. These statistics may be based on outdated treatments, so your chances may actually be better. Each patient responds to treatment in their own way, so these statistics are only a guide.

There are four types of ovarian cancer. If the cancer is found early and is localized, the five-year survival rate ranges from 92% to 98%. If the disease is advanced and it has spread to other parts of the body, the rate drops to 30% to 74%. ACS estimates that about 21,750 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, while about 13,940 women will die of the disease. It’s the fifth-highest cause of cancer deaths for American women.

Johnson & Johnson Fails to Take Action to Save Lives

The company never put any warning or information about the danger of ovarian cancer on product labels. Even as powder sales end, the company still denies that its product causes cancer. It also denied its powder contained asbestos, but studies have shown that it can be contaminated with the fiber.

In 1980, consumer advocates raised concerns that talc contained traces of asbestos. In response, the company developed a cornstarch alternative. Though Johnson’s Baby Powder has been advertised for infants and stocked on store shelves with diapers and baby shampoo, adult women have been the main purchasers in recent decades.

The company stated that retailers could sell current inventory until supplies run out. Johnson & Johnson will still sell talcum powder in other parts of the world, as well as baby powder made with cornstarch. The company will also continue to “vigorously defend the product” in court, reports the New York Times. Lawsuits may have reduced demand as concerns about the product spread. The company states that talcum powder is only half of one percent of its total domestic sales.

How Terry Bryant Can Help You

After seeking medical help, most victims want to know whether they can hold manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson responsible for the harm they caused. Many talcum powder class action lawsuits have been filed. They seek damages for consumers who purchased the product, not just those with ovarian cancer. This may be a good option for those without the financial means to file legal actions alone. The other option is an individual lawsuit. They seek compensation for the harm caused, whether physical, financial, or emotional.

At the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant, we know the law, and we know how to build strong cases for our clients. Our Houston talcum powder lawyers have the experience and the resources needed to help you and your family after cancer strikes. Our team knows what is needed to win your case. If you think talcum powder may have caused your ovarian cancer, call us at (713) 973-8888 today.

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