Kentucky Jury Gives Johnson and Johnson Mesothelioma As It Continues to Face Growing Number of Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson has successfully defended the safety of its iconic brand of cosmetics, Johnson's Baby Powder, for the sixth time in the previous 12 months
Monday, August 5, 2019 - A Kentucky jury ruled last week in favor of the company and against a woman that claimed Johnson's Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer of the lining of the lungs and a signature disease of inhaling asbestos fibers. The win was another in a recent string of victories for the company and bolstered the defense's confidence in defending allegations in the future, of which there are around 14,000 pending cases. According to CNBC.com, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement in part reading "decades of clinical evidence and scientific studies by medical experts around the world that support the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder."
Of the 14,000 cases against them, approximately 11,000 of them pertain to women who allege that talc, the primary ingredient in the Johnson's Baby Powder consists of crystalline fibers which are similar to asbestos and to which experts have testified can cause cancer. One such expert, Dr. Daniel Clarke-Pearson, a Gynecologic Oncologist and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is giving testimony this week before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in Trenton, New Jersey, citing studies that found particles of talc can travel through the vagina and into the ovaries and cause sufficient irritation that leads to cancer when the product is used regularly and for a number of years by women for the purpose of feminine hygiene.
A study called the African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES) published in 2016, lit the fuse that eventually resulted in the explosion of cases where plaintiffs allege Johnson's Baby Powder causes ovarian cancer. The study "compared 584 African American women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer" and found that "the women who reported using talc in the genital area, whether or not they used it anywhere else, were about 44% more likely to have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer." according to the Center4Research.org. Interestingly the Center reports that the study's main author "believes that this study was important because African American women are more likely to have used powder, making it easier to determine a strong link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer." And why are African American women more likely to use Johnson's Baby Powder? Lawyers for plaintiffs have cited internal Johnson & Johnson memos that point to the company becoming aware of the cancer risks posed by talc some 50 years ago and instead of placing a warning label on bottles of the product, deliberately redirected the company's marketing focus to target African American women, a demographic they felt were less well-informed.
In addition to the jury finding in favor of Johnson & Johnson, a $417 million jury award against them was thrown out of court and a new trial ordered in the case of Eva Echeverria, one of first to file a lawsuit claiming Johnson's Baby Powder causes cancer. Before the defense pops the cork on a bottle of celebratory champagne, however, the company will have to deal with the findings of a criminal investigation launched against the company by the US Department of Justice as to whether Johnson & Johnson lied to conceal the cancer risks of Johnson's Baby Powder.