The Huffington Post has given them the dishonorable title of “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” and it comes with considerable reason. Johnson & Johnson have been the kingpin behind many products that have been pulled from the market since they were first founded in 1886. News broke, yet again, on Tuesday when the consumer health-care giant reported that they will no longer be shipping hundreds of talc-based products to the U.S. and Canada. 

 

The company said the “commercial decision” was made following thousands of suits suspecting asbestos contamination – which led to a decline in sales. The decision to stop shipping the talc-based products came during an alleged portfolio assessment related to COVID-19. By removing the talc-based products the company insists it will allow appropriate social distancing within the company’s manufacturing plants.

 

J&J has been stocking shelves with their talc-based baby powder products since the 1890s, when they learned such products would not need approval or regulation from the FDA. They have confirmed that they will let the current inventories continue to sell until they run out. However, J&J will continue to ship and sell their cornstarch-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. According to the company, approximately 75% of their U.S. customers were already using the cornstarch products. 

 

Since 2017, there has been a 60% decline in sales, which the company associates with consumer habits changing and misinformation. Conveniently enough, in 2014, J&J was accused of hiding the cancer risks tied to its talc-based baby powder. In the years following, the company was hit with billions of dollars in actual and punishment damages. Though they have been successful in getting some verdicts reduced or wiped out during the appeals process, the reputation of the company has continued to take a hit. 

 

What they knew. Talc is a mineral made up mainly of the element’s magnesium, silicon and oxygen. In some forms, talc can also contain asbestos, making it also carcinogenic.  In a powder form, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to reduce rashes. 

 

According to ConsumerSafety.org, “The connection [between talc and ovarian cancer] was first suggested in 1971, when a group of gynecologic oncologists noticed that 75% of the tumors, they investigated contained talc particles. Since then, many researchers have agreed that talc use increases the risk of developing cancer. Recently, a report from May 2016 determined that 63% of women with ovarian cancer had dusted themselves with talcum powder.”

 

The American Cancer Society has also confirmed that there is a 30-40% increased risk of ovarian cancer associated with regular talc use. The science behind the ovarian cancer is simple. Many women use talc-based powders in their groin area as part of their daily routine, the talc flakes then travel into the body and move their way up the fallopian tubes, resting into the ovaries. After an extended period of use the talc flakes form into tumors. The catch is, when the tumors are removed and sent to pathology, the talc flakes can physically be seen. 

 

When they knew. Johnson & Johnson has known since 1971 that their baby powder could cause cancer, but they have continued to deny these allegations and claims. The least that this consumer health-care company can do is put a warning label on their product; but they refuse to do so because they believe that it will confuse or mislead their buyers. However, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which bought J&J’s Shower to Shower brand, has a label on their talcum powder that currently states that is it, “intended for external use only” and that, “frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”

 

When talc is sold to the manufacturers from the mine/company that produces it, it has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warning affixed to the plastic bags on which it’s packaged, warning that occupational exposure can cause lung and ovarian cancer. This talc is then combined with fragrance, put into a plastic container and marketed under different brands for consumers to use. This manufacturing routine has been in place for decades. 

 

What can you do? If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may be able to join the more than 19,000 other women who have filed claims against Johnson & Johnson. The statute of limitations clock has just begun, so please call us today, tell us your story and we will try our best to help. (800-511-3838)

 

##Sources

“America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/miracleindustry/americas-most-admired-lawbreaker/?

History of Johnson & Johnson: Timeline and Facts” https://www.thestreet.com/personal-finance/history-of-johnson-and-johnson

Johnson & Johnson Discontinues Talc Powder in U.S., Canada” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-19/johnson-johnson-discontinues-talc-baby-powder-in-u-s-canada

Talcum Powder and Cancer” https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html