According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually in the United States while another 15,000 women lose their lives from the disease each year. The insidious nature of ovarian cancer makes it difficult to detect in its early stages when treatment is most effective. There is no definitive test for the presence of the cancer and symptoms are often vague. Women are frequently in advanced stages of the disease when they are diagnosed.
Recent settlements in lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have been validating scientific evidence that there is a direct link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Since February 2016, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay out $127 million in two cases wherein women developed ovarian cancer after long term use of the company’s talcum powder products. Despite warnings that talcum powder was found in the ovaries of women with ovarian cancer in 1972, Johnson & Johnson has continued to sell their products without warnings of the potential dangers.
Talcum powder is made from the natural mineral talc, which contains magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. In 1971, scientists first discovered the presence of talc particles in malignant ovarian and cervical tumors. An estimated 20 percent of all ovarian cancer cases are now directly linked to long term use of talcum powder. Women have used products such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and their alternate brand Shower to Shower as an effective way to control moisture and reduce friction. When used regularly in the genital or peritoneal areas, the talcum powder fibers can travel through the fallopian tubes and settle in the tissue of the ovaries.
The most compelling evidence to prove this theory is that women who undergo a tubal ligation are 40 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer. Women who do not have their fallopian tubes tied are 30 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer when they use talcum based products over a long period of time. The American Cancer Society has confirmed the link between talc and ovarian cancer, yet they are calling for more studies to investigate how much the risk of developing ovarian or cervical cancer increases with long term use of talcum powder.
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have a responsibility to protect the public by ensuring their products are safe and free from hazards. When these companies market harmful products to the public, they can be held liable for damages under product liability laws. Johnson & Johnson violated these laws when they failed to adequately warn their customers about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The current lawsuits assert that Johnson & Johnson should have pulled their product from the shelves until investigations were conducted, or at the very least, put visible warnings on their packaging to inform the consumer of the potential danger to using their product.
There are 1,200 product liability lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson currently pending. All of the plaintiffs in these cases have suffered damages related to their use of talcum powder. A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson said the company is planning to appeal the first two settlement awards citing that their product labeling was sufficient for consumers to make an informed decision on using the product.
A diagnosis of ovarian or cervical cancer is devastating. Patients face months and even years of medical intervention that can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Medical bills can soar, leaving many patients and their families with a financial hardship. The experienced team of New Jersey product liability lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy can help you claim the justice and compensation that could help alleviate some of the burdens placed on you and your family because of your cancer.
Call us at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are located in Red Bank, Edison, and Toms River, New Jersey allowing us to serve clients throughout the state.