The American Cancer Society declares on its website that talcum powder-based products have been asbestos-free since the 1970s. Johnson & Johnson, one of the major manufacturers of such products, is equally vocal about claiming that its well-known talc-based baby powder does not, and never has, contained asbestos. Juries hearing claims to the contrary continue to cast doubt the industry position.
The latest reflection of this came in mid-July with a panel in Missouri ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay nearly $4.7 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to a group of 22 women. The women alleged that baby powder and other J&J talc-based products did contain asbestos and caused them to contract ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson vows to appeal the case. Meanwhile, the company is named in thousands of additional actions claiming talc-related cancer and they continue to work their way through the courts.
Many can and do propose the argument that there is no solid scientific evidence that there is any link between talc and ovarian cancer. But the fact remains that, in its natural state, asbestos appears in talc. And asbestos is known to cause cancer.
What’s more, according to plaintiff’s documents unsealed as part of another suit against J&J, the company purportedly knew for decades that its talc products contained asbestos fibers and about the risk of ovarian cancer it presented to women who applied the products to their genital areas.
While scientists continue their research and to debate the question of risk, many women are facing diagnoses of ovarian cancer, undergoing exhausting, costly medical treatments that often start too late and offer little more hope than the chance of an extension of life. Meanwhile, the cancer victims’ loved ones suffer trauma as they witness the treatments and, too often, the eventual death of the family member.
This is the arena in which attorneys with experience dealing with asbestos-related illness and death serve. Just because scientific consensus is lacking on cause and effect does not mean none exists. And in the presence of apparent evidence that many manufacturers have known about potential risk for decades, and have ignored the concerns and refused to warn consumers, suggests that litigation and bringing the matter to a jury may be the only remedy individuals have for recovery.
For the sake of peace of mind, anyone with concerns in this area should consult with an attorney about potential options.