Johnson & Johnson trained its employees to reassure everyone that its talcum powder contained no carcinogens. However, plaintiffs say the company has known for decades that its talcum powder contained asbestos fibers and that the exposure to those fibers can cause ovarian cancer. But the company had coached its employees to tell those concerned that asbestos has “never been found and it never will” in its products, according to an undated memo that was unsealed in a product liability lawsuit against J&J.
Link Between Talc and Ovarian Cancer
These unsealed documents add yet another dimension to the claims against J&J as it defends itself from more than 5,000 lawsuits across the country blaming its baby powder products for causing women to develop ovarian cancer. So far, five juries have ruled against J&J. One of the documents unsealed earlier this month indicates that in May 1974, an official at the company’s Windsor mine in Vermont recommended the use of citric acid “in the depression of chrysotile asbestos” from talc extracted at the site.
The use of such systems was strongly urged by the official to provide protection against the hazardous asbestos present in all talc ores in use at the time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires specific testing to ensure that the talcum powder is free of asbestos. Lawyers representing women who allege they got ovarian cancer as a result of using J&J’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene can use the documents in court to show that the company knew that its powder products could cause cancer. Five juries have held the drugmaker liable, including a California panel that ordered it to pay $417 million to a woman who’d been using J&J’s talc products since the 1960s.
The Need for Accountability
This unsealed document is yet another piece of evidence that shows J&J knew very well that there was a credible link between talc and ovarian cancer. However, not only did they fail to warn consumers about this danger, but also promoted the use of their talcum powders for feminine hygiene purposes with jingles such as “Just a sprinkle a day keeps the odor away.” The company needs to be held accountable for such negligence. The women who trusted their products and used them for decades should get justice and fair compensation for their tremendous losses.