Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson Link Talcum Powder Products to Ovarian Cancer

Source: NJ Spotlight
For millions of women, dusting the genitals or underwear with powder is a daily ritual (with) Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower: “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away.” (But) Talc powder might be a cause of ovarian cancer — who knew? It turned out some people did.
(In a) first-of-its-kind lawsuit against J&J in federal court…(t)he jury found Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos., guilty of negligence for failing to warn of the risk of ovarian cancer, but awarded zero damages to the plaintiff…physician’s assistant Dean Berg, (who) was stunned to learn that since the early 1980s, a slew of studies had found that women who regularly used talc powder for feminine hygiene had higher-than-average rates of ovarian cancer.
Heartened by a liability finding in arch-conservative South Dakota, lawyers have since brought claims for about 700 ovarian cancer victims or their survivors, blaming the disease on exposure to talc powder…Most of the lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey, where J&J is headquartered, or in state court in St. Louis, MO, considered a favorable venue for plaintiffs.
The suits charge J&J with failing to take the precaution of replacing talc with corn starch, which has similar skin-soothing properties but has not been linked to health risks. While defending the safety of talc, J&J has offered powders with cornstarch or cornstarch-talc blends.
Last month, J&J’s McNeil Consumer Health Care division pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of selling adulterated medicines, including children’s Tylenol and Motrin that were contaminated with bits of metal. The plea deal with the Justice Department, which included a criminal fine and forfeitures of $25 million, capped a series of recalls and enforcement actions stemming from quality control breakdowns at McNeil’s Fort Washington, PA, plant.
In November 2013, J&J and two subsidiaries, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Scios, Inc., agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion to the U.S. and 45 states to settle criminal and civil charges of illegally promoting Risperdal and other anti-psychotic drugs for unapproved uses. They had also been accused of paying kickbacks to doctors and a major pharmacy to prescribe the drugs. As part of the settlement, Janssen pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor. J&J settled the remaining civil allegations without admitting wrongdoing.
The same month, J&J’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit announced an agreement to pay about $2.5 billion to compensate 8,000 patients who had surgery to replace allegedly defective DePuy hip joints. Earlier this year, the company reached a similar settlement with another 1,400 patients–yet it still faces thousands of injury claims related to the DePuy implants.
By J&J’s count, at the end of 2014 it faced 56,300 personal injury claims in the U.S. The talc litigation, on the other hand, wasn’t even get mentioned in J&J’s 2014 annual report…The first trials are scheduled for early 2016…

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