Below are some of our videos explaining the potential dangers of talcum powder, and especially the connection to ovarian cancer. To learn more about the types of injuries that have been linked to this product, and the legal claims that have been filed, click Talcum Powder.
Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Still Causing Devastating Health Effects – America’s Lawyer
Papantonio: As early as 1971, J & J had enough information to being asking questions about potential harm their body powder could create for women. In 1971, scientist discovered particles of the talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors. It was the earliest red flag for the potential for suffering that was going to follow.
In 1982, another study clearly showed a woman’s risk for contracting ovarian cancer doubled, if they used talcum powder. After that, there were half a dozen or more studies that looked at the relationship between talcum baby powder and ovarian cancer in women. All of the results from those studies were enough to put any reasonable corporation on notice that the product they were selling had the potential to cause injury and death by way of ovarian cancer.
The federal government, as early as 1990, did what you’d expect them to do. Their oversight was not there. They completely ignored the problem. According to J & J’s own documents, they were warned about the threat that their talcum powder posed to women on September 17, 1997. This document shows that scientists at Johnson & Johnson, working with Alfred Werner. He warned the company that what they were saying about their talcum powder was not true. Specifically, they were misrepresenting the truth about how dangerous that problem was. The company claims were completely false. That’s what this document shows.
The company digested that information. Then, one month later, after they knew that, one month later on October 20, 1997, they sent a question and answer form to their employees instructing them on how to answer questions about the talc’s relationship to ovarian cancer. As expected, the response that they told their employees was, the talc was perfectly safe. Don’t worry about a thing. They told the opposite of what they had learned just a month earlier. While they were covering up the truth, Johnson & Johnson was trying to find new ways to expand their markets for their talc products. They figured out that they could create a niche market through special marketing efforts with African Americans and Hispanic customers. Internal documents show exactly how aggressively J & J went after that market, even though they knew that their product had potential to cause ovarian cancer. They pushed the product.
Even though Johnson & Johnson refused to put any warning about ovarian cancer on their product, the supplier of the talc that J & J used did add warning labels in 2006. Again, J & J chose to make no warning. At this point, 4 juries have listened to the weeks, weeks and weeks of testimony and reviewed the documents directly from the file cabinets of Johnson & Johnson. Each one of those juries found that J & J failed to warn consumers about the link between talcum powder and the increased risk of ovarian cancer. Approximately 22,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. The many autopsies that take place with these women clearly show the presence of talc inside ovarian tumors. Still, J & J has refused to create any type of legitimate warning for women who should just have the right to make a choice, just the choice of whether they’re willing to accept that risk or not. Give them the choice.
At this point, there are 1,200 lawsuits have been filed against J & J. Several of the cases that have been tried have resulted in verdicts ranging from $50 million to $70 million dollars, after the jury has seen how callous and how corrupt the conduct of J & J has been.
As you’re going to see with most of these cases, corporate media’s been unwilling to tell the story about J & J in any meaningful way because of the incredible amounts of money that Johnson & Johnson spends in advertising on networks like ABC and CBS and NBC. It’s left up to us to tell you a story that should have been disclosed decades ago.
Papantonio: Joining me now to discuss the Johnson & Johnson story is attorney Kim Adams. Kim, let’s start with the fundamentals of what talc is and what kind of threats it poses in the human body.
Adams: Talc, you’ve kind of explained it. Talc is a powder that’s used to absorb any kind of wetness of any sort. The risk of talc, which we have found, is the risk of ovarian cancer. The risk and the benefit to these, to women, primarily, is just something that we’ve never really even seen before. We see a risk-benefit ratio most times in most of the product cases. The risk here, ovarian cancer, experts estimate 10-15% of the 20,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year is related to talc. We just don’t hear of those kinds of numbers.
Papantonio: Okay. At what point, I’m wondering, Kim, at what point did Johnson & Johnson become aware that their talc products clearly could cause these kinds of illnesses in their customers? When did that happen?
Adams: At least 30 years ago. At least 30 years ago, Johnson & Johnson knew of these risks. They have done nothing but try to hide these facts from women. They have heard from the studies, I think there’s been at least 10 to 12 to 15 studies showing the relationship. They have gone to the authors of those studies and said, ‘Hey. We don’t believe in your results. We don’t believe in your findings.’ They have made every, every effort to defend talc at all costs. The FDA. The FDA has done nothing. J & J presented a task force, even, to say, ‘We’ve got to defend talc.’ They presented this information to the FDA, trying to do everything in their power to defend talcum powder, when the evidence was just so insurmountable that it’s just so unbelievable that this product is still on the market.
Papantonio: Kim, J & J knew about the problems, if I’m hearing you right and from what I have reviewed, that certainly is the case. They did nothing. You say the regulatory agencies in the United States did nothing. Why didn’t they step up and actually actively do something to, at the very least, Kim, at the very least, warn these women. Give them a choice. “Do I want to use this baby powder or not? Do I want to take this risk or not?” What is your take on that. I know you’ve handled a lot of cases with defective women, products that are sold to women. What is your take on this case?
Adams: Primarily, financial and political gains by J & J. Their influence is something that we face everyday against big pharmaceutical companies. The voices of the consumers are not heard until it’s too late. That’s what’s happening here. Johnson & Johnson put forth as much money and as much power and as much politics as they could to overcome and influence our federal FDA in not taking any action, when the evidence was so clear on this particular case. It’s just unbelievable.
Papantonio: Kim, how many lawyers throughout the country, or trial lawyers, are working on trying to get Johnson & Johnson to do what they should do? That is either warn, or modify their product.
Adams: Hundred of lawyers. 10-15% of all ovarian cancers are estimated to have some talc relation. Thousands of women. We’ve got hundred of excellent trial attorneys trying to get J & J, just put it in your label, just make some estimation. Let the world know. Instead, J & J chooses to say, ‘Women are mis-remembering how they used the product. Women don’t remember that they used it for feminine hygiene. They didn’t use it frequently enough.’ They’re trying everything in their power to confuse the public, essentially, confuse the public.
Papantonio: Okay. A client who has cancer, maybe has died from cancer, the story that the defense, J & J defense comes in and says, ‘Well, gee, you just don’t remember what you did for 30 years. Maybe you used a different powder.’ They attack the claimant. Is that what you’re seeing happen in this case? After they knew for this many years, when trial takes place, they attack the claimant and try to make the claimant look like they’ve done the bad thing, even though they’re finding the Johnson & Johnson fiber inside the woman’s tumor. Did I get that right? Adams: That’s right. Papantonio: Is it pretty much an attack mode that we see?
Adams: That is exactly right. They are attacking women. Women still, to this day, are so confused as to what the science is. We have women calling our offices all the time. “Should I use talc?” “Shouldn’t I use talc?” J & J is spending more money today, I guarantee you, on promoting talc, still, than they used in all the research that they’ve done before they put this product on the market, over the last 30 years, when scientist, after scientist after scientist has told them, ‘Take it off the market. Give women a warning.’ This is not a product that gives you a cure for HIV or gives you some huge benefit. This is talcum powder. It’s time that we hold J & J accountable.
Papantonio: Kim, even with these dangers, well known to the company, no question they knew about it, they still tried to ramp up their marketing to go after African American and Hispanic women. Did I get that right? They actually focused on African American and Hispanic women. Was that part of the history here?
Adams: That is correct. Yes. That is absolutely correct. They still are doing it. It is still all over the internet, social medias. It’s still being promoted. The unfortunate thing here is all of the women that were impacted over all of this time, essentially it’s the cost of doing business for J & J, which we see time and time again. The problem here is, we still have young women, 20s, 30s, hysterectomies, deaths, being diagnosed all the time. You have women who were diagnosed maybe 20 years ago. The biopsy samples, the evidence to prove up their case, gone. They’re never, potentially, going to have their day in court. J & J knows that. J & J’s very educated on the legal system. They know bide your time, bide your time. Statutes of limitations are going to expire. These women are never going to be able to come sue us outside of court and get their day in court and get the justice they deserve.
Papantonio: One thing we see them doing, I’ve got about a minute here, Kim, one thing we see them doing is, as you say, confusing women and saying, ‘Gee whiz, the science that’s telling us it’s going to cause cancer is just not right. Even though we’re finding the talc powder inside the tumor, you can ignore all that.’ Am I getting that right? In about 30 seconds, did I state that right?
Adams: That is absolutely right. That’s what they do. They want to take any negative scientific evidence that is against their product and they flip it. They flip it to promote the product. The women are confused. Consumers are confused with the way the evidence is out there. Of course you want to believe the FDA. Of course you want to believe Johnson & Johnson. Of course you want to believe the government, it has your interest at heart. That’s just not the case here. It’s the most absurd thing we’ve seen.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit News - J&J Offered Woman $1.3 Million To “Keep Quiet” About Cancer Link
By now, I’m sure everyone has seen headlines talking about Johnson and Johnson losing several trials where they’ve had to pay out tens of millions of dollars because their talcum powder has been linked to cases of ovarian cancer in women. Now, here’s the story that very few people understand about all this.
The very first lawsuit filed against Johnson and Johnson came from a woman named Diane Berg in the year 2009. She developed ovarian cancer at the age of forty nine. She had been using talcum powder made by Johnson and Johnson for most of her life for feminine hygiene needs. In 2009, develops ovarian cancer, files a suit.
Four years later, Johnson and Johnson came at her with a $1.3 million offer to settle, but as part of that settlement, Johnson and Johnson wanted her to sign a nondisclosure. Meaning that she could never tell anyone, friends, family, especially not the press that talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer. Essentially, Johnson and Johnson wanted to pay her a million dollars to keep her quiet and not let this story make it to the public.
Now, she declined that money and in the jury trial, she was awarded no money whatsoever, but the jury did find that Johnson and Johnson’s talcum powder was linked to ovarian cancer. Ms. Berg explains it was never about the money. She declined that offer because she wanted this story to make it to the American public, to the world, so that people could understand that this company, Johnson and Johnson, for forty years, they knew about the link between cancer and their talcum powder and they hid it from the American public. They did everything they could to prevent women all over this country from understanding that the powder they were using everyday could kill them. Johnson and Johnson knew that.
You see, talcum talc is a mineral, much like asbestos. Just like asbestos, when it builds up in the body, it creates cancer. Again, Johnson and Johnson knew this for forty years and they did absolutely nothing. They increased their marketing in low income areas, minority areas. They specifically targeted black and Latino women with this product and they have since developed ovarian cancer as a result.
Johnson and Johnson is almost just as bad of a criminal organization as you can find in this country today. I think probably only DuPont and Monsanto topped them in the caliber of criminal conduct that we see coming out of them everyday. That’s what these lawsuits are about. It’s not about people wanting to get rich quick, it’s people wanting to expose the lies of this company.
That’s what most lawsuits are about. It’s not about the money and it never has been, according these victims. They just want people to be aware of what this company has done, so that they can protect themselves because Johnson and Johnson certainly isn’t going to tell the truth, unless they’re forced to.
Lawsuits Claim Johnson & Johnson Covered Up Talcum Powder Cancer Link For Decades
Farron: We’re learning more and more about the dangers of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder. The latest news is that the company was specifically marketing the product towards lower income Americans. The talcum powder in the company’s products has been linked to ovarian cancer in women, and the company knew about this. Let’s check in with attorney David Haynes to discuss the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuits. David, this talcum powder story with Johnson & Johnson, it’s been out for about six months now but it absolutely is not getting the kind of coverage that it deserves. Many people out there have no idea that this talcum powder or talcum-based products from Johnson & Johnson have been linked to cancer. We’ve had two court rulings in favor of plaintiffs on this issue, give us kind of a rundown of what we now know about Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.
David: This is one of the most well-known household products of course that people have been familiar with for decades if not generations, such as Shower-to-Shower and the Johnson baby powder products. A lot of women are using this, a lot of women are using this for feminine hygiene issues, other just regular use. Talc is a mineral which actually contains magnesium, sulfate, and oxygen and also includes asbestos. It was always thought to not be cancer causing agent, but as it turns out, Johnson & Johnson had knowledge for decades of these concerns and the link between talcum powder, their specific product that they were marketing as incredibly safe and good for everyone, and they’ve known the link between talc and cancer, but they have never made it public and they’ve never made their consumer aware of the potential risk, and there have been no warnings on the product. Some studies have began to come out and they’re showing a very direct link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, and that the risk for those women who are using it for general application, ovarian cancer risk is increased by about 40%.
We have tens of thousands of cases a year of women who have ovarian cancer, if they’re talcum powder users, it very well may have been caused by this product and they’re not aware of it.
Farron: What is so frightening about this issue is, essentially from birth, I think everybody who’s had a child in the last 30 years has probably at some point had a bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder in their home. We start putting this on children, young girls and young boys from the day they’re born almost. Then they grow up, they continue to use it in different forms. And as you said it’s not just for feminine hygiene, it’s general use. If you put it under your arms, if you use it anywhere where you feel you need it, it still increases the risk of cancer by 30% for regular use and by 40% as you pointed out when used as a feminine hygiene product. This is essentially not safe at all really for any kind of use because it’s going to increase your risk of cancer. That’s what we’re finding out now and that’s, as I’m to believe is what the juries agreed with.
David: Yeah that’s true and obviously consumers need to make a risk-benefit analysis. When you’re looking at what the potential benefit is from talcum powder which is potentially a comfort sort of issue, to reduce sweating and chafing and things like that, versus the risk which is cancer and which can of course be fatal, consumers need to have that information so that they can make that analysis on their own. Many experts of course are coming out with their advise which is simply don’t use it because the benefits certainly don’t even begin to outweigh the potential risks. You start by using it from birth … We used this on both of my daughters when they were young as well and not knowing, but the fibers from the talc can travel up through the uterus and then to the ovaries where it causes ovarian cancer. Very disconcerting, you look at some of the marketing tactics potentially that are very concerning as well. They had a drop in sales in the early ’90s and Johnson & Johnson begun to market this specifically to African American and Latino populations of women believing that they were a better source for marketing this.
It is very popular among African American women to use as well, and so as the memos and the internal documents from Johnson & Johnson have come to the light of day, we’ve had sunshine shined on this in these two cases. We’ve had two very significant verdicts around the country both of which included very large punitive damages claims which the jury … Both juries both times have been upset clearly at what Johnson & Johnson knew and failed to reveal to these plaintiffs and to the public at large. We’ve had a first verdict of $72 million, $62 million of which was punitive damages, and the second verdict was $55 million, 50 of which was punitive damages. The jury certainly didn’t return those verdicts lightly, those are pretty extraordinary results and they are based upon this very large sophisticated company Johnson & Johnson not sharing the information because they don’t want to put warnings on the bottles.
Farron: It is interesting, we’re looking at … I think there is at least 1,200 more lawsuits against the company that have already been filed. When we talk about the fact that tens of thousands of women every year develop ovarian cancer and some of them may not know about the link between the use of powder, and then we get into a, as you just pointed out, the marketing of it. Johnson & Johnson when they ramped up this marketing towards African American and Latino women, they knew at that time, correct me if I’m wrong, but they knew at that time that it was linked to cancer.
David: Yes, they have had this information, they’re the experts of course, it’s their product. Johnson & Johnson is a huge company, it seems like we’re regularly talking about that particular company with defective products that are on the market. Unfortunately in their safety culture, they’re internally with their scientists and their epidemiologists at Johnson & Johnson, they really need to be taking a look at that. They’ve known of this information for decades, they proceeded with this marketing blitz to the African American community in the 1990s, yet they’ve concealed it because if this information comes out, of course sales will be drastically affected and this is a cash-cow for Johnson & Johnson. It’s a very serious issue obviously, 20,000 women diagnosed annually with ovarian cancer and over 15,000 women die annually from ovarian cancer. Still, the information is not out there to the public that this in fact could have been the cause of their cancer or their loved ones cancer. It’s very sad.
Farron: Is there anything that we know about the bio-persistence of talcum powder. For example, if a woman had used it but she stopped using it five, ten years ago, does the risk decrease or does it kind of accumulate? Essentially, what do women need to know and do they need to go get checked out and how often should they be checked out? Do we know anything about that?
David: Yes, I think the answer is that we’re now getting some initial scientific studies and a lot more studies do need to be done. We are establishing the link, I think that the science is showing that long-term users are definitely at greater risk. As we talked about, there is a slightly elevated risk as well for those women who are using it for more of a feminine application. But more information is known, if you have been a long-term user of baby powder, you certainly may wish to consult with your physician about what risk you might be subject to and testing that can potentially be done. Of course genetic factors and other predispositions for cancer are always an issue. As we look at these situations, the main thing is that consumers need to have the information so that they can make an informed choice for themselves and their family, their children and their babies as to whether or not they want to use what seems like a harmless product, but in fact is a mineral which contains magnesium and asbestos on their application and on their naked body.
This is something that consumers have the right to know about, and these large medical companies do not have a right to conceal the information that they have internally.
Farron: Exactly and as we’ve often discussed, it’s not the fact that a product does something bad, it’s that the company knew about it and made the conscious decision to not inform people, to not warn people, to not change their practices or their product, and that’s when they run into legal troubles. When they know about a problem, they do not inform people and they let them continue to be injured. David Haynes, these are the exact reasons why people like you are out there every day fighting these fights, holding corporations accountable and seeking justice for those that have been harmed. We appreciate everything you do both in the courtroom and on this TV show, so thank you very much for talking with us today about this very important product.
David: Thank you for bringing attention to this story Farron, thank you.
Jury Hits J&J with $55 Million Verdict For Talcum Powder Lawsuit
Mike: You know, Kim, after Johnson & Johnson got hit for $72 million on their talc powder case the first time, the spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, Carol Goodrich came out and said that the verdict in the $72 million verdict contradicted years of research that supported the safety of the talc. Now they get hit with another $55 million verdict. It's not looking like Johnson & Johnson is gonna really be able to pull through this without admitting that they did something terribly wrong.
Tell us about the last verdict. What's the significance about this from a scientific standpoint? I know you deal with both the science and the legal aspects of this. How do you see this verdict?
Kim Adams: I see this verdict as both a strong message, and both of these verdicts you're looking at well over $50 million in punitive damages awarded by those juries. Those juries, not just any science gets before the jury. The judge is the gatekeeper. The judge has reviewed the science and the juries have spoken. I think the juries are tired and the public is tired of being the guinea pig for some of these. I think Johnson & Johnson and these other manufacturers are going to have to, just like you said, they have to admit that they should have warned. Women, in general, are also being, they're tired of being these guinea pigs. We're seeing it time and time again, that the manufacturers are left to police themselves and they don't do it. They look at it as the cost of doing business.
Mike: Kim, you've been handling these types of cases a long time, just generally product defect cases and pharmaceutical kinds of cases. You're doing interviews on this case with many women that are calling you about this. What are the things that you try to analyze when somebody calls in and says, "Look, I have cancer. I believe it's related to my years and years of use of this talcum powder." What are you looking for when somebody calls in? What is important to you?
Kim Adams: I'm really glad you brought that up. The first thing is, these women, whether they want to pursue a lawsuit or not, they need to get with their doctors and get their records. Doctors and hospitals purge records all the time, and we need to make sure we obtain those records. The client needs to or the potential client needs to just for their own well being. Some of these cancers, the ovarian cancers, they're finding the talc when they do the biopsies. Sometimes biopsies were never done, but we've got to have the medical records to support what's going on.
Mike: You just said something really important. That is, when they're doing these biopsies, these people are presenting with ovarian cancer.
Kim Adams: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mike: Most of the time, if it goes untreated, real early catch, it's fatal. It's a difficult cancer to treat. The question is we know that it's not just them telling us that they've used years and years of Johnson baby powder, on pathology, they're actually seeing it in the tissue, the talc in the tissue that they're putting up on a screen so the jury can see it, the scientist or the doctor is saying, "Well, here's the talc, and here is the cancer right around the talc." It's pretty clear isn't it?
Kim Adams: It's very clear that the studies we've looked at and I know are being presented to these juries show talc being an irritant. It's almost sort of like the asbestos epidemic that we saw in the past. It's kind of the same mechanism I think. What's really interesting about these talc cases, too, when you look at the numbers, you figure 20 thousand plus new ovarian cancer diagnoses every year. Of those, you've got another 14 thousand deaths every year. That has been a little bit on the decline, but, when you look at 30 years of talc exposure when they knew. They're showing documents to juries that they knew this stuff was causing cancer for at least 30 years, a 30 to 60% increased risk. You're looking at the potential savings ... I know that we analyzed it and a lot of attorneys have, if you've got 25% of lives caused by these talc exposures, you're looking at a savings of half a million women of no diagnosis if they put this warning on 30 years ago when they should have an another 100 thousand plus of lives saved if the manufacturer had just done ... They didn't need this product. They had other products they were selling.
Mike: Kim, you raised another thing, and I want to talk about the fact that they absolutely did not need this product. There's no question. They branded this product. They felt like they had the brand out there so they had to stay with the brand. They were making so much money on it. At the same time they were making all this money, Kim, though, you point out that the document show they had every reason to understand that this had the potential to cause cancer, didn't they?
Kim Adams: They sure did. In 1999, the American Cancer Institute even said, "You know what, we see a link here, and we think you should no longer use talcum based powders. Maybe you should swap to one of the other powders that sort of do a lot of the same issues that talc would." It's not the American Cancer Institute's responsibility, it's the manufacturer's to warn these women, and they didn't do it.
Mike: Here's an interesting thing. You've seen this so many times in some of the cases you've handled over the years, and I see it too. That is, once a company comes and they spend billions of dollars branding their product, this is Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Talc, this is what you need to use, put it all over your body for hygiene if you're an adult, put it all over your baby, everything is fine. They brand this like it's great. They don't want to do anything to pull it off the market, even though know that it's causing physical injury; they don't want to do anything because they're so committed to that brand.
Kim Adams: That's right.
Mike: They've made so many billions of dollars off of that brand for decades now, so, it's chickens come home to roost for Johnson & Johnson, the way I see it, Kim. Do you have another take on it?
Kim Adams: No, I definitely think that it has. They've got several more trials set this year. I just really think Johnson & Johnson, at some point, needs to admit to the public their wrongdoing. There's just not enough that can be said about the litigation and the legal field and the communities coming together to put a stop to the manufacturer's taking advantage of the public. I think that they are sending that message loud and clear. One of the clearest we've seen in a long time.
Mike: The point is this, the point is what we see these companies do many times is they calculate how many people will die using this product. In other words, we can project maybe it's 1,000 women a year will die using this product from cancer directly related to the talc exposure. Then, they calculate how much money are we making on this every year, then they calculate how much is each one of those lives worth every year and they conclude "Well, if we're making a billion dollars, we can afford to pay out $200 million in losses in court." We see that time and time again, and I almost have to wonder, in this case, is that what they've done. One thing for sure, you see a case like this develop and once you start seeing the beginning of it, it always gets worse. Isn't that your experience?
Kim Adams: I absolutely think that that is true. Not only for the plaintiffs, but you've got to consider, too, I think one of the other things they calculate, not only the cost of that, but how many of these people are going to die off that they're not going to have to deal with? How many of these people are going to have their statutes of limitations to the extent that you've got some state that's got, something that they can't get past? I think they calculate all of that stuff into their evaluation of "Do we try to brand something that's safe? Do we actually update our warning and lose some of these sales?" It's really sickening to see the crassness of these manufacturers when they take into consideration, taking away the person's life, taking away the person's ability to even have any recourse. I think the fact that those two aspects are even considered in [crosstalk 00:08:41] products is horrible.
Mike: If they've already made $100 billion in all these decades selling it, it's the cost of doing business. They say, "Well we can pay out $2 billion and we can kill x number of people and we still come out ahead on this," and what your position is on this, and from the beginning has been, they need to put a warning on this product, if not, take it off the market because of the fact it's not even necessary. They have powders that don't even have this talc that don't kill you by way of ovarian cancer.
Kim Adams: Sure.
Mike: Kim, as usual, I've watched you handle big, big cases, this is certainly a big one and I appreciate you showing up here. I hope you'll continue to get this story out there, OK.
Kim Adams: Will do. Thanks so much.
Mike: Thank you, Kim.
Johnson & Johnson Loses $55 Million Talc Powder Cancer Lawsuit
Johnson & Johnson facing hundreds of lawsuits over cancer-linked talc powder
J&J Talcum Powder and Killer Ovarian Cancer
David: It's great to have back on the program, attorney, Mike Papantonio, co-host of Ring of Fire. Pap, when you think of baby powder, you think of one of the least offensive, least dangerous, most innocuous substance, right? Talc. As we've learned over the last 12 hours a number of reports about the $72,000,000 order for Johnson & Johnson to pay out. You would be very wrong if you think there's nothing to worry about with baby powder.
Mike: This is a case really of great lawyering, David. The lawyer who handled this case, Jerry Beasley, he's been a trial lawyer 50 years. It's the kind of case that he typically does handle where everybody else looks at it and says I can't imagine that baby powder has the ability to kill people. Jerry Beasley jumped in and he tried this case in St. Louis, Missouri.
What he knew was that the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer had reported, 2015 they start reporting the fact that there seems to be a 30-60% increase in ovarian cancer for women who use this either Shower to Shower or Johnson & Johnson baby powder on a regular basis. What he started doing was putting the connections together. What they were finding, they were actually finding fibrous minerals in the tumors that were being removed form women's ovaries. The questions then were what kind of powder do you use? It came up it was Johnson & Johnson, it was shower to shower. It's a silica powder. We learned an awful lot about silica powder during the asbestos cases. The reason we're handling these cases is we want women to understand stop using the stuff. Put it away. There's no reason to even take a chance on something like this, because right now the information to me is becoming overwhelming. It started as early as the 1980's with Johnson & Johnson understanding that there was a potential risk here.
David: This is one particular case, right? $72 million to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was specifically linked to her use of Johnson & Johnson talc based baby powder, but now as we're getting more and more reports, it seems like there may be, may be up to 1,000 other cases linking talcum powder to cancer, which have been filed in Missouri state court. What do you know about those 1,000 roughly other cases?
Mike: Those cases, a lawyer is not going to file an ovarian cancer case that they don't have some causal relationship between Johnson & Johnson or Shower to Shower. There's no benefit in that lawyer filing a case unless they've done their due diligence, unless they've seen a relationship between, at least from a temporal relationship between the women using this powder and then the onset of the ovarian cancer.
Obviously the thing that you're able to do with the pathology in these cases is actually find remnants of the mineral. We look at the asbestos cases we can actually find the actual asbestos mineral inside the human body. Here you're able to find with good pathology that's successful, you're able to find the actual mineral inside the tumor that are growing in these women's body. Just the notion that gee whiz, there's 1,000 cases filed, you can bet that most of those cases, there has been due diligence done, there has been a finding of some relationship between the talcum powder and the ovarian cancer.
Of course, Johnson & Johnson will play this out as if gee, this is just a fishing expedition. Well, it's not. Johnson & Johnson understood as early, as I say, the 1980's that there was a direct relationship here that they were concerned about. They didn't tell the FDA because they're not regulated by the FDA, which is amazing. It's a self regulating decision which Johnson & Johnson had to make. They didn't share it with the FDA because they say they had no responsibility to do that, which is technically correct.
They didn't even share it with customers, without putting any kind of warning on the product at all that there may be a relationship between ovarian cancer and the use of this product.
David: Correct me if I'm wrong. There has been a change in what goes into talcum powder. Before the 1970's, you often had these asbestos fibers which are obviously widely known to cause cancer, that would be in talcum powder. Under EU law, anyway, any home product that contains talcum powder is now legally obliged to be asbestos free. Now the question seems to be about the talcum powder itself, and that the talcum could irritate ovaries in a way that could eventually cause inflammation, and as we know inflammation is what leads to cancer. Even thought many were under the impression this was solved in the 1970's, now it appears that may not be the case.
Mike: That's right. If you take a look at ... First of all you have to understand there's potential defendants in this case that are mining this stuff. They are mining it jut as they would mine asbestos. When you dig into the ground and you get a mineral and this mineral has the ability to cause irritation, you can develop something called a scar based cancer. It's as you pointed out, it's typically related to the inflammation that comes form a foreign body being in human tissue.
When you're able to say look, we saw the tumor and inside the tumor was this material, it's a pretty good relationship. It's a pretty good causal relationship that you're able to draw, and that's what Jerry Beasley did in this case.
David, there's another story here. The other story is this is another case where the company failed to police themselves, the regulators were completely asleep at the wheel. The media never bought into this story because it's Johnson & Johnson baby powder and they're advertising for Johnson & Johnson every day. They certainly don't want to go whip forward with a story like this. This story has been kicking around for some time but it was one of those stories that the media refused to talk about. It's like the story that we have up in Ohio with C8. C8's causing cancer to thousands and thousands of people but the media wouldn't talk about it, because DuPont was such a big advertiser.
This is exactly that situation. Johnson & Johnson is a massive advertiser, the story's been kicking around a long time. Jerry had the guts to go forward with it and do what the media wouldn't do, what the regulators wouldn't do, what the industry wouldn't do, and that is to say look, women, don't take any risks. Stop using it. I think that's why we're convinced to go forward with these cases. We're going to be handling these cases in a big kind of way because we feel like the more you're able to tell people stop using this stuff, the more often you can do that, the better results you're going to get. There's no reason to use Johnson & Johnson or Shower to Shower baby powder. There simply is no reason.
David: Isn't the broader story here, and you're alluding to it, the idea that a company or organization knows about a risk and they do nothing about it. We have now, we're talking about Johnson & Johnson and baby powder. Of course you've been working the Teflon case involving DuPont. We know now at a broader scale on climate change, Exxon Mobil, dating back 4-5 decades knew about the impact of fossil fuel mining and transportation and usage about the impact on the environment. They did nothing to curb that. This is the broader story you're alluding to, isn't it?
Mike: It is. At some point, David, what has to happen is it has to be more than social media reporters like me and like you talking about these stories. Corporate media has to do their job. They have to say there's a Chinese all between the advertising end of what we do and the news end of what we do. That has to happen.
For example, the story that you're talking about here, if I'm in the Department of Justice and I'm looking at the documents that show of what these oil companies did that they actually undertook a strategy to lie to regulators, to lie to the American public and they understood that while they were lying that they were killing our planet. What they were doing, in a sense, it's nothing less than manslaughter, David. It's not them, they're not going to suffer. It's your grandchildren, it's your children who are going to have to face the catastrophic events that are going to unfold in the next decades because of their criminal conduct.
Nevertheless, the only group that is seriously looked at this has been the New York attorney general because the Department of Justice is so freaking second class. There are white collar criminals that should be going to jail for some of these decisions. We see it every day. I see it with pharmaceutical cases. The case that we're going to be handling here with the talcum powder, when we start looking at it, I'd like to know who knew what when. These are big questions that have to be answered.
Jerry has already shown that there's a very good connection already about what Johnson & Johnson knew when they should have done something and their failure to do it because they wanted to make a profit. That is the scenario that plays out day after day in our business. David, thank you for reporting it, because if it weren't for social media reporters like you, these stories would never, never get legs. The DuPont story's a great example. You started reporting on it, somebody else picked it up. The Intercept picks it up, Huffington Post picks it up, magazine after magazine, environmental magazine picks it up. It has to begin with what people like you are doing at the very basic level of social media.
David: We'll be doing it, you'll be working the case and we'll certainly be covering it. We've been speaking with attorney Mike Papantonio. Co-host of Ring of Fire. Thanks as always for being on.
Mike: Thank you, David.
J&J’s Big Profits: The Cost is Ovarian Cancer for Hundreds of Women
Mike: Wesley, Jerry Beasley really stepped up in trying this case over in St. Louis, and I say that because Jerry has a long history as being a really outstanding trial lawyer. This was a case where the government was not doing their job. They completely were asleep as far as regulations. The industry was not doing any kind of self-policing. They knew they had a problem as early as the 1980's, but they were unresponsive to doing any kind of policing at all. Then you have the media which never really picked this story up because they were afraid of offending Johnson and Johnson because Johnson and Johnson is such a big advertiser. In that, Jerry Beasley stands forward, and he goes forward with this case, just gets a tremendous result in St. Louis. I know you're handling these cases, and our firm's handling these cases, but I want to talk about the fact that sometimes it takes a Jerry Beasley to make everybody wake up and make everybody understand, have these women understand that they should not be using talcum powder, period. What is your take on this? How bad is the relationship between ovarian cancer and talcum powder, like the case the jury just tried?
Wesley: There's no question, it is horrible. Every year there is about 21,000 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed, and of those, about 14,000 deaths, so this is an incredibly serious disease. Of those 14,000 deaths, what came out in that last trial with Mr. Beasley was that about 10% of those, at least 10% are related to talc powder use. This is not an isolated incident. This isn't a one-off case. This is something that's affecting thousands upon thousands of women every year in our country.
Mike: I know you've evaluated this case, and I think the thing, the reason that you think it's such a strong case is you're finding that there actually is remnants of the silica from the powder that's being found, the minerals are actually being found in the tumors that are being removed from women's bodies.
Wesley: That's right.
Mike: That's kind of smoking gun kind of material, isn't it.
Wesley: Absolutely. What they're seeing is that sometimes when we go in, they're having problems, their doctors will actually see that their ovaries are inflamed, and they do what's known as a tissue digestion study. When they do that, a pathologist looks at the tissue underneath a microscope, and they're actually finding particles of talc in the ovaries, around this inflammation, and actually in the tumors themselves. There's no question what's causing this. Talc is actually getting into the ovaries, and it is causing cancer.
Mike: On thing these lawyers are ... One thing that's developing here, and I think it is just so important, the International Journal on Gynecological Cancer came out with a fairly extensive study where they showed that there as a 30 to 60 percent increase in the risk of ovarian cancer for the women who were using this powder. When did this kind of information start developing? When is it that Johnson and Johnson knew or certainly could have known that they needed to take a closer look at what was going on here.
Wesley: Unfortunately, the answer to that, I think what really got this jury so incensed, was that they've known since the 1980's. In fact, they started looking at this, the link, in 1982. In the late 80's, even the government became aware of it. What's really sad, and what's really the tragic part of this is because it's a cosmetic product, talcum powder is used in a wide variety of cosmetics, but because it's considered cosmetic, the FDA doesn't regulate it. They rely on Johnson and Johnson, essentially, to self-regulate. Of course, that leads to disastrous results here where they don't even put on their a warning when they've known about it. Their executives been talking about it for decades, since the 1980's, at least.
Mike: Wesley, what are you looking at when a case calls ... when somebody calls and they say, "I think there may be a case."? What things are important for people to understand and be aware of when you're advising them? What types of questions should you be asking?
Wesley: You know, in this type of case, it really is, what we're looking at are women who have used Johnson and Johnson products, talcum powder, baby powder, really any type of baby powder consistently. You had mentioned the study previously that showed a 30 to 60 percent increase, Harvard actually did a study in 2008, Harvard University, that said women that used talcum powder, even just as little as once a week, increased their risk by 36 percent. If you start using it daily, it jumps up to at least 41%. One of the things that we want to do is get the message out there that this a dangerous product because Johnson and Johnson isn't going to put a warning on their product. The FDA isn't going to regulate it, and so it's up to people, to lawyers to take the right step, like what Mr. Beasley did, and make sure this message gets out there. When we look at these cases, we're looking at women who have used this product for years and that are now faced with a very tragic set of circumstances in their lives.
Mike: Even after the results that took place, or even after a jury looks across the room and tells Johnson and Johnson, that by the way, I think it's remarkable, Shook, Hardy's name pops up as being in here. I don't know if they're still defending them, but you know, Shook, Hardy is of course the people who defended the tobacco industry. I wonder what it takes to get through to these folks and say, "Listen, isn't it time you just take the product off the market? Why should you put anybody at risk?" The risk-benefit ... There is no risk-benefit analysis. I mean, you don't have to use baby powder. You don't have to use this product called Shower to Shower and put yourself at any kind of risk.
Wesley: No. You can look for a product that contains corn starch. A lot of manufacturers, not all, but a lot of manufacturers of a baby powder type of product have switched from talcum to corn starch. Let me comment on what you just mentioned about what is it going to take for Johnson and Johnson to change what they're doing. I don't think that anything can change it. Let me read you something at Mr. Beasley put in his last round. This is an internal memorandum. They had an investigator that they hired as a third party to look into this, and this is what he said.
He said that, quoting a prior internal memorandum, he said that in that prior memorandum it says, "Keynote studies on talc and cancer in the industry settings have shown that industrial exposure to talc both by skin contact and inhalation, even at levels thousands of times higher than lifetime consumer exposures present no significant risk." Here's the part that really drives it home. This investigator says, "This statement is outright false." That's in 1997. When you have your own investigator telling you that your statements are outright lies to the public and you don't change your conduct, I don't know what will.
Mike: Going forward, Wesley, if people call, will you be willing to share the information that you have about this case? I think as much information as we can get out there, the better.
Mike: All right. Wesley Bowden, thank you for joining me. Good luck with this, okay.
Wesley: Thank you.
Johnson & Johnson To Pay $72 Million Verdict For Talcum Powder Cancer Link
Mike: In The Best of the rest Of The News baby powder's 1 of the most commonly used household products in America, but could be a major cause of ovarian cancer. On Thursday a jury in Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson to fork over $72 million to the family of a woman who claimed to develop ovarian cancer after using its branded baby powder. 100s of other women are making the same claim. Johnson & Johnson of course denies the connection but this is the first time that a jury has awarded damages in a case involving talc, the main ingredient in baby powder and unfortunately the cancer cases keep developing.
Joining me now for more on this is consumer attorney Wesley Bowden. Wesley, welcome. I want to start by why don't you telling us what is the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. What are we finding?
Wesley: Well, what we are finding Mike and thanks for having me on, is that over the years over several decades now they have been studying this link between talc powder and ovarian cancer. What they are finding is that the talc powder is actually traveling up the fallopian tubes and lodging itself in the ovarian tissue, causing the inflammation and leading to cancer and what these women's doctors are finding is when they are doing these biopsies of the ovaries, they are actually finding particles of talc in the cancerous tissue.
Mike: Well, so a jury was obviously very angry at the story that they heard over in St. Louis and I think the thing from the reports that I'm getting is that they were most angry about the fact that we had a company that knew about this connection possibly as early as the 1980s. They understood that silica would end up causing the inflammation that you are talking about and they actually understood the very minerals that we're finding inside of these tumors now were the very minerals that have the ability to cause kind of a scare based cancer. What was your take on what happened in that trial?
Wesley: Absolutely and there was a trial before this too in 2013 where the jury in that case found that the talc lead to ovarian cancer, but the information they had didn't enrage them as much and as you know as we go through these trials we uncover more and more documents and what they found in this most recent case was that Johnson & Johnson not only knew about the dangers, but it didn't bother to warn and that's 1 of the most tragic things about this actual litigation is that Johnson & Johnson because this is a consumer ... excuse me, a cosmetic product they aren't regulated by the FDA. They're essentially self regulated to determine are we going to put a warning on our product and if they're not really there's no way for consumers to know what type of risks they are being posed with so in this case-
Mike: They had a blockbuster over the counter product that was selling. They understood nobody was looking over their shoulder. They didn't have to answer to anybody. The FDA wasn't involved and technically at some point they should not have been involved, but that doesn't mean that the company didn't have a moral and legal responsibility to tell women that when you use this stuff you increase your risk of cancer as high as 30 to 60%. Those are the numbers that actually came out in the international journal of gynecological cancer. 30 to 60% increase of ovarian cancer. That wasn't the only article was it?
Wesley: Oh no. There's been other studies to and in fact these links go all the way back to 1982. Johnson & Johnson of course knew about those links, maybe even before then, but since then they've been coming out with articles on a fairly regular basis questioning the link, proving more and more this causal link between ovarian cancer and talc use and I think in 2008 Harvard actually did a study where they said, "Women that even just use this product on a weekly basis, not even a daily basis, are seeing a 36% increase in risk for developing ovarian cancer," so it's a very strong link.
Mike: Tell me, how does a company go about defending themselves in a case like this? I mean obviously the thing that we are seeing right now if we look at the trial that took place in St. Louis is to go out and hire what we call biostitutes, that's where you hire somebody who will, maybe a professor at a school, who will say anything for the right amount of money. Has that developed over the years? They've had a heads up on this for awhile haven't they?
Wesley: Oh yeah. What they do and you see it in all types of litigation, they will start hiring experts, hiring experts that their opinions are for sale for the highest bidder and they go through and they basically making the science very, very confusing for the jury. What they can't do is run away from their own documents and Johnson & Johnson, they really got hurt by their own documents in this last trial. In fact, I've actually read some of the exhibits and they actually went as far as hiring investigators, third party consultants, to look at some of the stuff that they were doing and they actually ...
I want to read you this 1 section here. This is from their own internal investigation. They said simply sighting a previous study saying that, "Talc does not translate through the cervix to the uterian cavity and beyond," they're talking about cancer here, "does not serve our best interest." They also say that, "Lifetime consumer exposure presents no significant risk." That statement is outright false and that's a statement that Johnson & Johnson had been perpetuating to consumers at large for decades. They've known about this for decades, but of course if they say, "our product causes cancer" or they put any sort of warning on their product it's going to stay on the shelves. It's not going to sell.
Mike: These aren't small numbers. It would be 1 thing if you said, "This happens only once in awhile." Harvard study I believe it was that said, "A woman," as you pointed out, "A woman who just uses this sporadically increases their risk of ovarian cancer by some like 10%." It was just ... Those are the kind of numbers that women should be concerned about. More importantly, those are the kind of numbers aren't they, that Johnson & Johnson should say, "We have a responsibility. We've got a legal responsibility and a moral responsibility." Nobody needs this product. Not a sole in the world needs this product. There are alternatives that don't have this talc in them don't they?
Wesley: Oh absolutely. 1 thing to kind of put in perspective is that you're right, Johnson & Johnson does have a moral obligation. They should be telling people about this, but they've got 26% of the market so they are not willing to go out there and say, "Our product is causing cancer and killing people," but there are alternatives. Corn starch is an alternative. It's something that a lot of talc powder, baby powder companies and producers have switched to because they recognize that 1, they are selling a product that doesn't require a warning, that isn't regulated and they have a responsibility to inform consumers because if they don't, people won't know so what you have is people using this product for decades.
Mike: Wesley, got about a minute, but really quickly, the companies sometime make an evaluation of how much money they're making every year. If they are making $4 billion a year, they calculate how many years can they make $4 billion and then they look at the next question is if people become ill or they die because of our product how much is it going to cost us. From what you're seeing early on, is there any doubt that's probably what happened here? Is this just another 1 of those cases?
Wesley: It's tragic to say this, but I think that yes, that's probably what we are looking at. They do this ... They have their accountants look at it. They say, "If we can make a billion dollars off of this and it's only going to cost us $2 million in the long run," they look at it from numbers. They completely take humans, they completely emotion and morals out of the picture and it's just sad and that's what jurors are getting upset about now.
Mike: And right now we're seeing ... It's pointing to the fact that there are a lot of numbers, but Wesley keep up the good work. Got to go.
J&J Lawsuit Shows How Talcum Powder Led to Ovarian Cancer
Seder: Pap, this week there was a huge award ordered by a state jury in Missouri against Johnson & Johnson for the company's, I guess, knowledge that the talcum based baby powder in Shower to Shower that they were selling for years had the ability to cause cancer in some...
Papantonio: Yeah, Ovarian cancer. They said more than that, Sam. The attorney that handled this is a friend, and he's a great lawyer. Jere Beasley. The reason we're involved in this case, the reason I'm handling this case also, is because I really want women to understand that why would you possibly take a risk of using this Shower to Shower, or Johnson's Baby Powder when there's any risk of Ovarian cancer? The studies right now, actually as early as the 1980s, the studies started showing there's a connection between the minerals that are found in this powder. Because it's mined. It's mined from the ground. This talcum is mined from the ground, but there's minerals that cause inflammation in the organ systems. Anytime you have inflammation that sometimes leads to scar-based cancers, and what's happening Sam, is that they're finding the minerals that they can trace back to the powder in the tumors that are found in these women.
The question then becomes ... You had the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer come out just ... They did a study and they said, "Look. A woman who uses this on a regular basis has a 30 to 60% increase of Ovarian cancer." It's not a ... That's not a coincidence. Harvard did a study. They said ... It was even more compelling. They said a women doesn't even have to use it regularly. She puts herself at risk every time she uses it, because once that talcum ... Once the minerals from the talcum powder absorb into the body they then become an ... They create an inflammatory process. The Journal of National Cancer Institute talked about the use of talc in Ovarian cancer in 2014. They weren't equivocal about their findings.
The interesting thing about this case is that this is information that Johnson & Johnson knew since the 1980s. The documents in this case are ... They're awful when you start determining what did they know. That's what the jury reacted to. This wasn't just ... The question, Sam, was not only were they negligent. They obviously were negligent. The question was also, "Did they show reckless disregard for human life?", and the jury came back and said, "Yeah, they did." Sometimes if ... Sam, if this were a medicine, if this were something that maybe was a life-saving medicine you had to take it, there'd be some risk-benefit analysis. There is risk-benefit analysis here. This is just absolutely no benefit.
Seder: My understanding is that there was a sense within Johnson & Johnson that they knew that these ... The reporting of these links was going to drive down their sales, and so they re-oriented who they were going to try, and sell this to. My understanding is too is that they had been basically aware they were going to have to pay the piper at one point, and have been preparing for this litigation in some way for maybe decades.
Papantonio: Yeah, they have. Matter of fact what they is they went out, and hired what I call "biostitutes." Those are ... You find 'em at places like Yale, and Princeton. They're these scientists, or these professor types that will say anything for the right amount of money. What they did is they went out, and they phonied up some epidemiology. The epidemiology they tried to show that it's impossible for this to cause Ovarian cancer even though you're finding ... You're tracing the minerals right to the ovary. The problem is when you have a company like this that has this much head-start they get to change the epidemiology, because they secretly pay for the epidemiology to make it look like there's no connection. That's what they did here. That's why Jere did such a wonderful job in this case. Actually working his way through that, and showing that that's a fraud. That you can go hire a "biostitute", which is nothing more than a scientific whore, for the right money, and they're going to say whatever you want 'em to say. That's what Johnson & Johnson did here in this case.
Seder: Pap, just tell us, in a case like this there are a lot of potential plaintiffs out there, so what happens next? You've had this ... You have this award. I assume Johnson & Johnson tries to appeal. What ... Walk us through what happens next.
Papantonio: What's going to happen next is this. First of all you're going to have lawyers that have virtually zero experience thinking, "I can go handle these cases." They can't. A guy like Beasley does the same thing we do. We specialize in these cases. This is what we do. (laughs) What ends up happening is very often you'll have some lawyer go grab a bunch of these cases for people that need to have good representation, and they'll end up making bad law in jurisdictions. This is what my prediction is on this case. You're going to ... It's going to be like the scene in Jaws where the characters in the little rowboats, "I'm going to go catch the big white shark," but what ends up happening is they do so much harm to the project itself.
What I always try to tell people is know who you're hiring on something like this, because it can go bad for a lot of women. A lot of women are suffering from Ovarian cancer directly related to this talc, and so the question then becomes ... You have to ... Simply because somebody advertises and says, "I handle these cases," you need to find out who they are, because I say that not just for ... I say that, because they can upset the entire process, and a lot of people can be left out in the dark, because some lawyer who knew ... Had no clue on what they were doing tried to handle this case against Johnson & Johnson, blew it, and made bad law that affects women all over the country. That the first thing I always talk about.
The second thing is that this case will continue ... We're going to continue ... There's going to be documents that keep showing up. The documents that Jere Beasley put in front of the jury are really bad. They showed really reckless disregard, terrible conduct by Johnson & Johnson, and that's why the jury came back like they did. My prediction is those documents will even get worse as this case goes forward.
Seder: Wow. Really just amazing. I have to say that in the 10, now gosh 12 years that I have known you, and I hear these stories from you that you deal with on a day to day basis, when you find these documents in these corporations, and I am ... I still have the ability to be amazed at the callousness, and just the sheer sense that these folks, because they're making a dollar, owe nothing to the general public, or their customers. It is shocking to me. Pap, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you much.
Papantonio: Thank you, Sam.