Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is facing more than 5,000 lawsuits centering on the increased ovarian cancer-risk associated with the personal use of its talcum powder-based products. J&J has been aware for decades that talc particles can travel to women’s ovaries and cultivate cancer but failed to warn its customers.
Documents recently unsealed during a pre-trial deposition show that J&J knew about traces of the carcinogen asbestos in several of its talc mines. The company attempted to bury this information on more than one occasion. It also trained its employees to assure the public that asbestos is absent from its products, according to an unsealed internal training memo.
One case of recorded asbestos relates to J&J’s Windsor mine in Vermont and dates back to May 1974. An official at the mine recommended the company use citric acid for the “depression of chrysotile asbestos,” Bloomberg reports (bloomberg.com). The mine’s director of research and development wrote in support of this process, “to provide protection against what are currently considered to be materials presenting a severe health hazard and are potentially present in all talc ores in use at this time.” Despite this warning, all of J&J’s reported results from this era, including tests and studies from 1972 and 1983, state that no asbestos was present in their talcum products.
The unsealed files revealing the presence of asbestos in J$J mines were part of an April pre-trial deposition by Joanne Waldstreicher, who was J&J’s chief medical officer since 2013. Waldstreicher maintained that asbestos is and has been absent from J&J’s talc, despite evidence to the contrary.
Along with the recorded asbestos in the Windsor mine, it was also found in the Val Chisone mine near Turin in Italy. The mining company produced a marketing booklet that disclosed the discovery of trace amounts of asbestos in the talc mines J&J used. A J&J scientist convinced the mine to hold off on the distribution of the English-language version of this publication until J&J officials had a chance to rewrite and edit it themselves. According to Bloomberg, the scientist described the booklet as representing the following threat to J&J’s business: “that it can raise doubts on the validity of the documentation of purity and safety of talc.’’
“[Asbestos] is a problem even if it’s found in small amounts in talc, especially because it’s used by children and women,”
said Dr. Barry Castleman, an asbestos-risk consultant for the government and various health groups. He attempted to warn J&J of these dangers in the 70s but they persistently denied any presence of asbestos in their products.
These newly unsealed documents further elucidate and underline J&J’s negligence in failing to warn its customers about the serious health risks of using its talcum-powder based products, such its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Absorbent Body Powder®, for feminine and genital hygiene.
The Miller Firm is currently pursuing cases involving ovarian cancer in women who used either of these products for feminine hygiene. If you or a loved one used talc for intimate hygiene and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may have a case against J&J. Please call The Miller Firm at 1-800-882-2525 for a free consultation or visit our Talc Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit page to tell us what happened.