Jury Rules J&J Was Negligent with Talcum Powder but Pays No Penalty
In November 2013, a South Dakota jury ruled that pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was guilty of negligence involving their talcum powder product, Shower to Shower, but that they would pay no financial penalty for failure to warn.
Deane Berg, 56, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. She claimed that she had used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products, especially Shower to Shower, for over 30 years. Three doctors examined her cancer and found talcum powder in the cancerous tissue, and the plaintiff herself stated that she had no other risk factors for ovarian cancer.
In addition to the evidence presented by Berg and her attorneys, the court was informed of medical studies into the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder use. A study from 1992, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that weekly use of talcum powder led to a three-fold increase in ovarian cancer risk. A study published in a 1997 edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology confirmed the link and added that genital deodorant sprays with talcum powder could also be linked to ovarian cancer. In 2003, the journal Anticancer Research compiled data from 16 previous studies which involved data from 12,000 women and concluded that perineal baby powder use raised the risk of ovarian cancer later in life by 33%. In 2008, Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Margaret Gates reaffirmed the 2003 and 1992 studies, stating that her research led to the conclusion that weekly talcum powder use in the genital area raised the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 33%. She also specifically called out Johnson & Johnson’s product Shower to Shower, which she said could lead to a 41% increase in ovarian cancer risk with regular use. She published an additional study on the link between baby powder use and later ovarian cancer risk in 2010.
Johnson & Johnson argued that the studies showed statistically insignificant information about the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder and that the evidence, though compelling enough for further scientific investigation, did not warrant a warning label on the company’s talcum powder products.
Ultimately, the jury decided that both plaintiff and defendant were correct. They ruled that Johnson & Johnson was negligent, and failed in its duty to warn the public about information specifically related to using their product, Shower to Shower. However, they also found that the product was not inherently defective without the warning label, so Johnson & Johnson was not liable for Berg’s ovarian cancer and therefore would not pay damages.
However, more studies are being conducted on the link between talcum powder use, especially in the perineal and genital areas, and ovarian cancer. The more companies ignore or deny this link, the more their consumers will suffer the consequences.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Talcum Powder Personal Injury Cases
If you have been harmed, or a loved one has regularly used talcum powder and has since developed ovarian cancer, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. You may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.