In light of the two large sum awards recently settled for talcum powder cancer lawsuits, many women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer are now asking themselves if the powder they used could be the culprit in their diagnosis. A verdict against Johnson & Johnson awarded $55 million to a woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using the talcum powder the company produces for her feminine hygiene. A previous verdict awarded $72 million to the family of a woman in a wrongful death suit following her death from ovarian cancer.
The success of the lawsuits was based on proving Johnson & Johnson had known for decades that the talcum powder came with cancer risks yet did not warn consumers of the dangers. Instead, the product was promoted as a feminine hygiene product, leading to punitive damages for the company from the women who are now facing serious health consequences.
As early as 1971, researchers in Britain found that talc particles were embedded deeply in ovarian tumors after examining them through a microscope. This is similar to how mesothelioma develops through asbestos exposure, as it involves fibers from the mineral embedding into cells, giving way for the formation of malignant tumors.
The following decade in 1982, a Harvard Medical School professor showed there is a very significant and startling link between ovarian cancer diagnoses and using talcum powder for perineal dusting. However, it took until 2006 for the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify using the powder for feminine hygiene as potentially carcinogenic for consumers.
In around 20 epidemiological studies that included 16 case-controlled studies, increased rates of ovarian cancer were found in women who used one of the talcum powder feminine hygiene products on a regular basis. More recently, a study revealed that there is a 33 percent heightened risk of ovarian cancer for women who use these products. Johnson & Johnson was aware of these risks yet rather than warning its customers, the company instead increased its campaign, targeting African American and Hispanic women who were among their most loyal demographic.
Despite all the evidence, the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is still not fully clear. The studies conducted as early as the 1970s showed a definite correlation, but not necessarily a causation. However, ovarian cancer is relatively rare. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer only makes up three percent of cancer diagnoses among women. Due to the mixed reviews on the studies conducted on the issue, it has been speculated that Johnson & Johnson will likely file an appeal against the rulings on the medical product liability case, but no appeals have been made since the verdicts.
When companies knowingly put the public at risk for their own gain, victims deserve to be compensated for the consequences they will face. Our team of Philadelphia medical product liability lawyers understands liability law and how it applies to cases where companies knew the risks yet still exposed consumers. At Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler, we believe consumers deserve to be advocated for during each stage of the legal process. Contact us online or call 215-569-4000 today for a consultation at our Philadelphia offices where we proudly fight on behalf of consumers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey including Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, and Philadelphia County, along with the Greater Philadelphia region.