A St. Louis jury has ordered beleaguered health giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of Jackie Fox, an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by using the company’s Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene.
Fox’s suit was the first to go to trial and is among 1200 more suits being brought by women against J&J for what they said was a failure to inform consumers about the dangers of talc – which is found in baby powder. Throughout the trial lawyers for Fox claimed that J&J has long been aware of the possible risk of using products containing talc for feminine hygienic use. A 1997 internal company memo from a medical consultant was uncovered during the trial that stated, “anybody who denies” the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
The very fact that J&J Baby Powder was at the center of this lawsuit came as a surprise to most people. The ubiquitous product is a household name and used by millions. But the primary ingredient in baby powder, talc, has long been suspected of possible connections with cancer.
Daniel Cramer, MD, ScD, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and a prominent researcher in this field, testified at the trial as a paid expert witness. He was the lead author in the first study, in 1982, to ever to link talc use with ovarian cancer. During the trial Cramer cited 20 well executed, case-control studies done over the last 30 years that support the association. The most recent study was published in Epidemiology this past December. According to Dr. Cramer There is on average about 30% increased risk for ovarian cancer with talc usage in the case-control studies. In some of those studies there is also evidence of a dose-response relationship.
Equally troubling for me is that this lawsuit is just one more in a long line of litigation against Johnson & Johnson over dangerous products they have sold on the market. Ethicon transvaginal mesh, DePuy ASR and Pinnacle hip joints, Risperdal, Xarelto, power morcellators, Ortho-Novum, Tylenol, Invega, Invocana – what do these products have in common other than being made by Johnson & Johnson?
They have all been the center of lawsuits, in some cases massive recalls, and have cost J&J billions of dollars in legal costs. Now we can add Baby Powder to the list.
At Saunders & Walker we have a long history representing victims harmed by drugs and medical devices. We continue to offer representation to anyone suspecting that they, or their relatives, may have been killed or injured by dangerous medical products – especially those made by Johnson & Johnson.