After tens of thousands of lawsuits from cancer patients who have said the talc-based baby power was contaminated with asbestos, Johnson & Johnson has finally agreed to end all sales of the product in North America. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and thousands of consumers, mostly women with ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, have said they were not warned of potential risks Johnson & Johnson knew of and kept from the public.
Sadly, talc-based powders will continue to be sold in other parts of the world, and stores will be allowed to continue selling bottles already on shelves, Johnson & Johnson has said. Consumers should look for the cornstarch-based powder, which is not linked to the harmful effects talc-based formulas cause.
For years Johnson & Johnson denied its baby powder was tainted with asbestos and blamed faulty testing and slip-shot research methods when results did not confirm the company’s denial of asbestos in its product. However, internal memos, which were revealed through recent litigation, show the company has been concerned about possible asbestos contamination since 1958.
Almost 20,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson but with mixed results. In 2018, a jury awarded $4.7 billion to a group of 22 women plaintiffs. And just last month a federal judge ruled that scientific experts could testify on plaintiffs’ behalf, thwarting Johnson & Johnson’s hopes the exclusion of such testimony would kill future lawsuits against the company. Still, the company has won many suits and has filed appeals in almost all the cases its lost.
Revelations of company documents has led to investigations by numerous federal entities, including a federal criminal investigation, congressional committees, and investigations by 41 U.S. states.
Johnson & Johnson is also one of several defendants named in thousands of lawsuits for aggressively promoting addictive opioids. In August 2019, the company lost the first case in the country when an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572.1 million to the state for its role in downplaying risks while helping to fuel an opioid epidemic.
The denial and cover-up by a trusted American company demonstrated here is not the first nor last case of corporate America putting profits before people’s health and safety. If you were hurt by a product and were unaware of the risks, contact Grewal Law’s offices to see if we can help.
Kelly R. McClintock joined Grewal Law in 2019 to help establish a human trafficking litigation division and to assist Grewal’s already successful practices, including sexual assault litigation, and family law.