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Articles Posted in Talcum Powder and Cancer

A New Jersey federal judge recently handed down an important ruling which will allow thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits to proceed against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiffs lawsuits allege that they developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, as a result of exposure to deadly asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson products such as the company’s iconic Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

An estimated 16,000 asbestos cancer lawsuits had been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation before the federal judge in a process in which she would make rulings on common discovery which would apply to each individual case. At issue was the expert testimony of eight witnesses put forth by the plaintiffs’ lawyers set to testify about how exposure to talc and asbestos can cause cancer based on epidemiological studies. Johnson & Johnson had sought to block the testimony of the experts by calling for a “Daubert” motion.

Fortunately for the plaintiffs, the judge conducting the evidentiary hearings determined that the experts may testify to certain areas of expertise. Had the judge ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor, it is likely that the plaintiffs would not have been able to carry on with their lawsuits to trial where victims could present evidence of the causal relationship between their exposure to talc and asbestos in Johnson & Johnson products and their development of cancer.

Recent analysis by a North Carolina-based research group showed an astounding amount of asbestos fibers in two talc-based eyeshadow products commonly available on websites like Amazon and eBay. The findings represent just the latest revelation in talc-based cosmetics products that have tested positive for the deadly carcinogen, with some of them directly marketed at younger customers.

According to the study performed by Scientific Analytical Institute, and commissioned by the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C., 40% of the shades of eyeshadow in Jmkcoz’s 120 Colors Eyeshadow Palette contained asbestos, and 20% of the shades tested in the company’s Beauty Glazed Gorgeous Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette tested positive for asbestos. In response to the findings, both Amazon and eBay have removed the products for sale from their websites, but many other similar makeup kits are available for purchase on both online retailers.

“We urge anyone who has purchased either of these products for themselves, family or friends to take necessary steps to ensure they are no longer being used,” said Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, in a statement. “And we call on these companies and online retailers to immediately pull both of these products from their respective websites.”

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson has announced that the company will cease sales of talc-based Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, calling it a “commercial decision” to wind down sales in those markets. Johnson & Johnson’s cornstarch based Baby Powder will continue to be sold in North America, which the company claims accounts for three-quarters of all the sales of its iconic cosmetic product, but that the talc-based version will continue to be distributed to overseas markets. While cornstarch-based sales dominate North American sales, overseas consumers overwhelmingly purchase the talc-based formula.

According to the company’s chairman of its North America consumer branch, Johnson & Johnson will continue to sell its existing inventory through retailers until the product runs out. Although Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder accounts for less than 1% of the company’s overall sales, which have seen sharp declines over the past few years, the product is one of the company’s flagship items and has been used by millions of individuals for many decades.

While Johnson & Johnson may publicly state that its move to discontinue sales of talc-based Baby Powder in North America may be a market driven decision, the truth may actually be that the company is finally feeling the pressure of the 20,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits it is facing. Those claims allege that Johnson & Johnson acted negligently when it failed to provide warnings to consumers about the risks of using its talc-based cosmetics products, and that the company knew for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

The long-time talc supplier for one of the country’s largest pharmaceutical and cosmetics giants recently agreed to settlement terms in its bankruptcy proceedings, which would effectively forfeit all of the supplier’s North American assets. The terms of the agreement call for France-based Imerys SA to auction off all of Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont, and Imerys Talc Canada and have the assets placed into a trust that would compensate victims who claimed the company caused their debilitating asbestos cancer conditions.

Imerys Talc USA declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in February 2109 under the weight of an estimated 14,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits in which the company was enjoined with Johnson & Johnson. Until that filing, Imerys Talc USA had for decades supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based cosmetics company that produces the iconic Baby Powder and other talc-based products.

Reports from January 2020 indicate that Imerys Talc USA had been shopping its operations for outright sale. With its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing, Imerys Talc USA was able to consolidate all of the pending lawsuits in state and federal courts in front of a single judge and remove itself from potentially millions, if not billions, of dollars in liability, which Johnson & Johnson still faces.

Johnson & Johnson recently agreed to a tentative settlement in a Connecticut talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a plaintiff who claims he developed cancer as a result of decades of using talc-based products produced by the company. The settlement is a rare move on the part of the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant, which has taken the position to aggressively fight asbestos cancer lawsuits alleging its talcum powder products were the cause of various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma.

According to the talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of Bridgeport, the plaintiff claims he developed mesothelioma cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit also named other defendants that manufactured or sold products contaminated with asbestos which were contributing factors in his mesothelioma diagnosis.

Johnson & Johnson had previously attempted to have itself removed from the lawsuit and its part of the case remanded to a federal court after its long-time talc supplier Imerys Talc USA and co-defendant in the case filed for bankruptcy. That action, which has been a strategy of Johnson & Johnson to remove itself from state courts, was unsuccessful, and the company was forced to remain enjoined with the other defendants named in the lawsuit.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson recently agreed to a settlement in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a woman who claims her rare form of cancer was caused by decades of using the company’s cosmetics products. While the terms of the settlement were not immediately clear, the resolution is nonetheless significant because Johnson & Johnson has settled very few lawsuits brought by plaintiffs alleging similar claims against the company.

According to the talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan New York Supreme Court, the 62-year-old plaintiff developed mesothelioma from decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder product. The plaintiff claimed she developed mesothelioma from carcinogenic asbestos fibers contained within the talcum powder and that Johnson & Johnson knew for years about the risk of contamination in its talc-based products but provided no warning to consumers.

The settlement was reached in the judge’s chambers just before attorneys for both sides were to commence with their opening statements in the trial. Thus far, Johnson & Johnson has chosen to litigate and defend to trial most of the talcum powder cancer lawsuits brought against it in state courts across the country and has chosen to resolve very few before or during trial. Many of those trials have resulted in significant verdicts on behalf of the plaintiffs who claimed they developed various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using talc-based products, like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, contaminated with asbestos fibers.

A Florida state jury recently handed down a substantial $9 million verdict in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by an 82-year-old woman who claimed she developed mesothelioma from years of using talc-based products contaminated with carcinogens. The talcum powder cancer lawsuit named New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson as the defendant, claiming that the company knew for decades about the risk of asbestos in its talcum powder products but provided no warnings to consumers.

The verdict comes just days after a New Jersey jury handed down an even larger verdict on behalf of four plaintiffs who claimed they too developed various forms of cancer from using Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder. In that case, the jury determined that the plaintiffs were entitled to $750 million in compensatory and punitive damages, though that verdict will be reduced in accordance with New Jersey state law.

In the Florida case, the Miami jury heard testimony that Johnson & Johnson executives knew as far back as the 1960s that talc mined from deposits in Vermont and Italy contained asbestos fibers but failed to provide any warning to consumers about the risks of asbestos exposure. As a result of years of exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart.

After nearly a two-week-long asbestos cancer trial, pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to a rare settlement with the plaintiff who alleges she developed a rare and deadly form of lung cancer as a result of using one of the company’s most popular and iconic talc-based products. As part of the settlement, the New Jersey-based company reportedly agreed to pay the plaintiff $2 million and resolve the case without admitting any wrongdoing in the matter.

The settlement is a rare move by Johnson & Johnson, which faces an estimated nearly 17,000 other cases alleging plaintiffs developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from using asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products produced and marketed by the company. To date, jurors in state courts in California, Missouri, and New Jersey have handed down verdicts in favor of plaintiffs totaling over $5 billion in total compensation, including punitive damages for what the juries deemed especially reckless conduct on Johnson & Johnson’s part.

Johnson & Johnson was not the only defendant in the case to reach a settlement. The 61-year old plaintiff also named London-based Rio Tinto Minerals as a defendant, which reportedly mined the talc that was used in the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder the plaintiff allegedly developed mesothelioma from. As a result of settlements with all parties involved, the Oakland County jury was dismissed and will no longer need to deliver a verdict in the case.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will host a public forum discussing the methods used to test for asbestos fibers in talc-based products, as well as the terminology and criteria that can be used to measure the carcinogen in consumer products. During that forum, the FDA will discuss preliminary recommendations from the Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products (IWGAC)—an interagency working group formed in 2018 to support the development of standardized testing methods for asbestos and other harmful particles.

The purpose of the IWGAC is to address the terminology and definitions of asbestos, recommend improvements for measuring asbestos in talc-based products, and recommend testing standards to test these products. The FDA forum comes two-years after the agency first began investigating reports of asbestos in talcum powder products, during which time it tested 50 such products and confirmed the presence of asbestos in some. One of those examinations in October 2019 revealed the presence of asbestos fibers in a lot of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which caused the company to voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the iconic product.

Specifically, the IWGAC recommends adopting the term elongate mineral particles (EMP) to be “any mineral particle with a minimum aspect ratio of 3:1,” as to resolve ambiguity and disagreement of asbestos vs non-asbestos identification. Testing laboratories report all EMP having a length of over 500 nm and that testing methods specify reportable EMP identified as certain types of asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky recently appeared in a New Brunswick, New Jersey courtroom to testify in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by four plaintiffs who claim they developed a serious form of cancer from years of using one of the company’s most iconic products. The talcum powder lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure from using Johnson & Johnson products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower while the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant knew about the risk posed to consumers but chose not to provide any safety warnings on the products.

During his testimony, Gorsky indicated that he relied on company experts when he announced on national television that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos and was safe for consumers to use. Despite Gorsky claiming that he did not have firsthand knowledge of the science behind Baby Powder risks, revelations have surfaced in recent months that the company knew for decades about possible risks and that the company still chose to market its products to vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Furthermore, Johnson & Johnson was forced to issue a recall of 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder after independent testing conducted on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered the presence of asbestos fibers in the product lot. Those tests have since spurred Congressional oversight committees to call for standardized testing methods and terminology to dispel ambiguity about how results are interpreted and ensure the public at large is protected from products containing deadly asbestos.

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