Baby Powder Cancer Attorney Claims Yield Federal Investigation
Department of Justice: Did J&J Lie to Consumers for Four Decades?
Thursday, August 1, 2019 - The global pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, is the subject of a federal Department of Justice investigation related to its iconic Baby Powder. The investigation is based on claims made by baby powder cancer attorney groups and brought to public awareness by a groundbreaking Reuters investigative piece in December 2018 that the company knowingly neglected to inform consumers of the risk for ovarian cancer from its talcum powder products.
The criminal probe into Johnson & Johnson's actions over four decades was announced on July 12, 2019. Stockholders responded rapidly, and J&J shares fell 6% that day. A grand jury will review internal company documents to determine what company officials knew about the talc cancer risk, and when they knew it. For decades, J&J officials have publicly insisted their talc products are safe for regular use, marketing the products for use on babies and by women for daily feminine genital hygiene.
The first indication that talcum powder use by women may be connected to a risk for ovarian cancer came from baby powder cancer attorney efforts. Beginning in 2013 with the jury trial of Deane Berg in South Dakota, numerous juries have decided in favor of women who allege their cancer can be traced to their regular perineal dusting with talcum powder. In February of 2016, the estate of Jacqueline Fox was awarded $72 million in damages, setting the stage for future awards of $55 million to Gloria Ristesund, $70 million to Deborah Giannecchini, $110 million to Lois Slemp, $417 million to Eva Echeverria, and a whopping $4.7 billion in damages awarded to Krystal Kim and 21 other women. The damages have grown over time as evidence has mounted against the company.
While these wins are significant, baby powder cancer attorney efforts only became widely known by the investigative work of Reuters. A deep dive into court documents from these cases culminated in the December 2018 expose entitled, "Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder". The piece outlines J&J's knowledge of the risks of talc for feminine hygiene, as well as its awareness that its raw talc supply and finished products contained asbestos at various points in time. Internal company documents reveal company executives to be inwardly worried about the danger posed to women and babies and concerned about the long-term viability of talc-based products. The company hired numerous experts over the decades including scientists, researchers, and doctors to analyze the risk, create new testing methods, devise alternate products, and publish favorable studies. Outwardly, J&J has never publicly acknowledged the cancer danger.
Today, J&J faces more than 14,000 baby powder cancer attorney claims filed by and on behalf of women around the nation. With multidistrict litigation already underway in New Jersey, the outcome of the DOJ investigation could shape the course of these claims. While no one is certain how the bulk of these claims will resolve or what penalty J&J may ultimately face, what is certain is that J&J can no longer hide behind a wall of secrecy.