Johnson & Johnson Brushed Aside Reports of Talc Asbestos Contamination For Decades
Beauty and health care product manufacturers may have relied on the representations of raw materials manufacturers when making product safety claims
Thursday, March 25, 2021 - More than 25000 women with terminal ovarian cancer or men and women with mesothelioma have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, the maker of the iconic brand Johnson's Baby Powder. The women claim that using talcum powder as a feminine deodorant on the peritoneal region of their bodies caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Last fall, a New York court of appeals judge ordered the Johnson & Johnson to pay a Brooklyn NY woman and her husband a reduced amount of $120 million, mostly punitive damages, for cancer she developed allegedly from using Johnson's Baby Powder in such a fashion. The plaintiffs, Donna Olson, 67, and her husband Robert Olson, 65 were awarded $325 million after a 14-week trial in 2019. According to Reuters, the adjusted amount was in line with statutory requirements and consisted of $15 million of compensatory damages and $105 million of punitive damages. After the judge's order, attorneys for Johnson & Johnson stated once again that they remained confident that Johnson's Baby Powder was unharmful. According to Reuters, the company said: "We deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos-free, and does not cause cancer." Ms. Olsen, whose ovarian cancer is in its late stages, testified that she used Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene daily for more than fifty years. Judge Lebovits chastised Johnson & Johnson when giving the jury their final instructions. "Johnson & Johnson was for many years knowingly deceitful about, or willfully blind to, potential health risks of its talc products, in part to maintain market share and profit." The jury verdict and judges' instructions were no doubt influence by a 2018 article published by Reuters explaining that documents unsealed in prior court proceedings showed that Johnson & Johnson has known since the early 1070s that there was asbestos in their baby powder and that the company chose to ignore the information. "Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos," Reuters reported. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky claimed that he never read the reports that inferred or stated their talc was asbestos-contaminated. Instead, he sent the memos along to the company's scientists. Talcum Powder cancer lawsuit attorney offers a free consultation with no obligation to file a claim.
Gorsky's indifferent attitude for product safety and asbestos testing was reflected throughout the entire cosmetic, health care, and beauty products industry that had been left self-regulating by the Food and Drug Administration for a century. An executive from American International Industries, the maker of Clubman Talcum Powder, testified in a recent trial that it never crossed the company's mind to test their talc for asbestos, and instead relied solely on the purity and safety guarantees of the mining company.