Talc-based baby powder has been a flagship product for Johnson & Johnson since 1894, but litigation alleging that the product causes cancer has plagued the company for years. Several jury verdicts, settlements, and billions of dollars in product liability damages have dealt a devastating blow to profits. As such, Johnson & Johnson executives made the decision to discontinue making talc baby powder, which may contain the carcinogen asbestos. Despite the move, company officials insisted that the product is safe in a recent Miami Herald article.
All existing inventory of talc baby powder will remain on store shelves and available to consumers through retailers, so the threat persists for users – and women are particularly at risk. It is important to reach out to a Miami products liability lawyer to discuss your legal rights if you suffered harm, but you should become familiar with the basics about Johnson & Johnson talc baby powder litigation.
Legal Basis for Talc Lawsuits
The reason that talc-based baby powder may contain asbestos is that the two materials tend to naturally occur adjacent to each other in the ground. Therefore, when mining talc, traces of asbestos often make their way into the final product – including baby powder. It might seem that the biggest issues affect babies, but the risk to women comes from their use of the product for hygiene purposes.
J&J’s Knowledge is a Critical Issue
Signs of trouble with talc-based baby powder first surfaced in the 1970s when medical researchers discovered traces of asbestos in the product. They informed J&J, which denied the findings and rejected the idea that baby powder could cause cancer. Testing by the FDA did not lead to action because 43 out of 52 samples of baby powder showed no amount of asbestos.
More recent investigations have revealed that J&J’s own internal tests uncovered the presence of asbestos. However, the company:
- Continued to assert that the baby powder was safe;
- Did not cease its efforts to actively market the product;
- Failed to inform regulators about the risks; and,
- Refused to pull baby powder from store shelves.
Juries Tend to Side with Plaintiffs
One lawsuit against J&J made headlines due to the amount jurors awarded to 22 women who alleged that their ovarian cancer was caused by use of talc-based baby powder over a prolonged period of time. The $4.69 billion verdict was issued in July 2018, but an appeal by the company reduced it to $2.12 billion. In sum, there are more than 19,000 lawsuits currently pending against J&J – which has prevailed over plaintiffs in some cases.
Our Miami Products Liability Attorneys can Advise You
If you developed a medical condition from use of any consumer product, it is essential to consult with an experienced products liability lawyer right away. Large-scale defective products litigation often proceeds as a class action, and there are strict deadlines to preserve your rights. For more information, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to set up a complimentary consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.