While there are thousands of talcum powder lawsuits on file against healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in state courts across the country, a plaintiff in the federal litigation has asked to centralize lawsuits. There are currently 11 cases filed in federal jurisdictions in 10 different states, but the federal litigation has the potential to grow in massive numbers. The recent centralization motion has suggested the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois as the most appropriate venue for the litigation.

What Is Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder, also known as talc, is a naturally occurring mineral with moisture absorbing properties. It is commonly used in many cosmetics, but might be best known as the main ingredient in J&J’s baby powder. For decades, J&J has promoted its baby powder products to women to help reduce chaffing around the thighs and reduce vaginal odors.

Despite its widespread use, studies dating as far back as 1971 found a link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. J&J itself even hired an independent consultant in the 1990s to evaluate the evidence linking talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The company’s own expert advised it to stop using talcum powder. The company continued to use talc in its products without providing adequate warning labels explaining the potential risks to consumers.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits

In 2013, the first talcum powder lawsuit went to trial and J&J was found negligent. The next two cases went to trial earlier this year and again J&J was found to be at fault, and plaintiffs were awarded multi-million dollar verdicts.

Even in the face of more than 20 epidemiological studies linking talcum powder use to ovarian cancer, the company has stated it will continue to defend the safety of talcum powder in upcoming trials. The next talc side effects trial is scheduled to begin this September, and could signal a breaking point for J&J if the company fails to convince a jury of its lack of liability.