Johnson & Johnson (J&J) currently faces more than 1,000 lawsuits alleging the company failed to warn consumers of the link between the talc in its baby powder products and ovarian cancer. Among these lawsuits include eight recently filed directly into federal courts.
Five of the eight lawsuits have been filed in Louisiana. The remaining lawsuits were filed in Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. All plaintiffs claim the use of J&J’s baby powder products near their groin caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
The first link between the talc in baby powder and ovarian cancer goes as far back as 1971 when British researchers found talc particles deeply embedded in ovarian tumors. In the first baby powder lawsuit to go to trial, the plaintiff, Deane Berg, also had talc particles deeply embedded in her ovarian tumors.
Despite mounting evidence that talc causes ovarian cancer, J&J specifically targeted African American and Mexican American women in advertising campaigns to combat growing distrust.
The decision to target African American women was particularly devastating. This past May, a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research found African American women develop ovarian cancer from talcum powder use at a higher rate. While previous studies indicated women who use talcum powder products have a 24% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, the May study found African American women have a 44% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
J&J has already paid a high price for its failure to warn. Three baby powder cases have gone to trial and awarded millions to the plaintiffs at a total of $127 million in damages. The company will face the next baby powder lawsuit this month with another trial in October. The company has stated it will continue to defend the safety of its products in upcoming trials even though that strategy has not worked well in previous trials.