ST. LOUIS – New information highlighting the links between talc, asbestos, heavy metals and cancer continue to surface as ovarian cancer victims use the legal system to press Johnson & Johnson for answers about the health risks of its popular talcum powder products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower To Shower. Lawsuits filed by ovarian cancer and mesothelioma victims are revealing never-before-seen documents from Johnson & Johnson and talc supplier, Imerys, that shed light on just how prevalent asbestos and heavy metals are in the talc used in Baby Powder. The documents also show the corporations’ response to growing concerns about cancer risks. Over the last 90 days, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in document production from Johnson & Johnson and Imerys, said attorney Ted Meadows, principal at the Beasley Allen law firm and co-lead counsel in litigation on behalf of thousands of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “These documents are highly relevant to our claims that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys have known about these risks for a long, long time. Cancer victims suing J&J and Imerys argue that the corporations failed to provide warning labels on talc products despite knowing for decades about talc’s link to cancer. Although numerous cases have already been tried, the corporate giants continue to reveal more hidden information, adding to a growing body of knowledge about the safety of talc products and their response.
Even though we’ve already gone to trial against these companies on numerous occasions, they are just now getting around to turning over documents that are proving to be very significant in these cases, Mr. Meadows said.
Earlier litigation uncovered these important elements:
- In a May 2017 trial on behalf of a woman whose ovarian tissue was found to contain talc, asbestos and heavy metals, an Israeli researcher testified that J&J had hired his lab to test talc samples for asbestos contamination. When a majority of the sample batches were found to be positive for asbestos, J&J stopped funding the project. A St. Louis jury returned a $110 million verdict against J&J and Imerys in that case.
- Internal Johnson & Johnson documents from 1972 note that asbestos was found in 100 percent of talc samples tested at the time, but this information was never released publicly.
- In a 1997 letter, a toxicology expert hired by J&J told the company that at least nine studies had shown a statistically significant ovarian cancer risk for women who apply talc products in their genital areas. The expert warned J&J at the time that its response to the cancer threat could cause a public opinion backlash similar to that faced by the tobacco industry when they denied cigarettes caused lung cancer.
Thanks to our courageous clients, all of us are finally getting a fuller picture of what these companies knew about the safety of their iconic talc products,” Mr. Meadows said. “We’re hopeful that these companies will once and for all acknowledge the concerns they have expressed in private for more than a generation.