Johnson & Johnson Pulls Talc Baby Powder form U.S. Market | Levin Papantonio Rafferty - Personal Injury Law Firm

Johnson & Johnson Pulls Talc Baby Powder form U.S. Market

Since the early 1900’s Johnson & Johnson has proudly advertised its Johnson’s Baby Powder as “Best for the Baby—Best for You.” Although the massive, multinational company continues to stand by this message, it has finally conceded to others who disagree by discontinuing sales of its talc-based baby powder in North America.

The company will allow existing store inventories of the talcum baby powder to sell what they have in stock, and the cornstarch version of the product will remain in the Johnson’s Baby product line. Distribution of the talc-based powder will continue in other markets across the globe.  

In a May 19 press release, Johnson & Johnson made the announcement, attributing the decision to declining demand “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

Research Linking Talc-Based Baby Powder to Ovarian Cancer

Talc is a soft mineral that is mined from the same areas where asbestos is mined.  Asbestos is a known carcinogen and has long been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma (the basis for hundreds of thousands of lawsuits for asbestos manufacturers). Because the two minerals are mined in such close proximity, the risk for contamination is high.

When manufacturers use asbestos-contaminated talc in their products, they expose consumers to a heightened risk of cancer. In the case of talc-based baby powder, women have exhibited an increased likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. This development typically occurs after frequent use of the product, especially over extended periods of time.

The American Association for Cancer Research studied ovarian cancer cases in more than 8,500 women. They discovered that the women who had been frequent users of the product showed a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.

How Use of Talc-Baby Powder Causes Cancer

The Epidemiology journal published a study showing that by dusting the genital area with talcum powder, the chance of developing ovarian cancer jumped by 33 percent. Because of the powder’s natural ability to absorb moisture, women have used the product to freshen their genital areas.

During the dusting process, particles from the powder can travel through the vagina and move on to the ovaries, where they are trapped. Over time, the trapped particles cause inflammation that ultimately generates cancer cells.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer responded to the volumes of studies conducted of talc by classifying talcum powder on the genitals as a possible carcinogen to humans.

They Doth Protest Too Much

Johnson & Johnson continues to defend the safety of their popular talcum baby powder, which constitutes .5 percent of its total U.S. health business. The company insists, as it has for decades, that any discovery of asbestos in its product can be attributed to faulty testing.

However, in December 2018, Reuters revealed its findings from deep research into thousands of Johnson & Johnson internal memos, documents, and reports. Apparently, the company’s talc-based powder products tested positive for asbestos in the 2000s. The investigation further unearthed the company’s attempts to sway U.S. regulators to not interfere with their profits by imposing limits on asbestos in talc-based products.

What It Means

Scientific research has proven the causation element for ovarian cancer negligence lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s. The Reuters research also supports the argument for failure to warn consumers about the cancer risks of using their products.

Although the company has succeeded in appealing some court decisions in favor of the plaintiffs, it must be tired of throwing good money away after bad. In that regard, we can count Johnson & Johnson’s decision to pull their products in North America as a victory.

Next stop, the world, and compensating the women who have been harmed by the product.