A Reuters exposé released today revealed that since at least 1971 to the early 2000s, Johnson & Johnson’s executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers knew that the raw talc and some finished powders used in its talcum products such as Baby Powder contained the cancer-causing mineral asbestos. This may be the final nail in J&J’s litigation coffin.
“It is outrageous, but we are not shocked by the news that Johnson & Johnson covered up the dangers of its talcum products for decades,” said Beasley Allen founder, Jere Beasley. “These products have killed a number of our clients’ family members and many others, yet Johnson & Johnson continues to deny, deny, deny any culpability in the deaths linked to its products over the years. It is a true shame that it has taken this long to expose the company’s deception. J&J has lied to the government regulators, the American Cancer Society and, more importantly, the women and men who used the talc products.”
The Reuters story was based on its review of documents and trial related testimony, including depositions. The evidence reviewed shows that those in the company’s top ranks “fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.” The documents also reveal how the company influenced U.S. regulators who were planning to limit the use of asbestos in cosmetic talc products as well as scientific research on the health effects of talc.
The news agency reported that one of the earliest mentions that J&J’s talc was tainted was found in reports from 1957 and 1958 from a consulting lab. Over the next approximately six decades, reports by the company’s own scientists, outside labs and J&J’s talc supplier showed similar findings. It cited one of the first known cases linking the use of asbestos-containing talc to mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, as well as other internal organs. The disease can lay dormant for 10 to 50 years. But once diagnosed, mesothelioma generally kills within 12 to 24 months.
The case cited by Reuters involved Darlene Coker, who succumbed to mesothelioma, but not before suing J&J. However, the company was able to avoid handing over damning internal documents until recently. Approximately 11,700 plaintiffs now claim J&J’s talc caused their cancers, including women who say the frequent use of talc caused their ovarian cancer.
Beasley Allen is one of several law firms representing plaintiffs in the wave of lawsuits against J&J over its talcum-based products and the link to cancer, including ovarian cancer. The firm has been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder in the genital area. Since February 2016, the firm has tried seven cases with six going to verdict. The firm obtained favorable verdicts on behalf of five plaintiffs totaling more than $724 million.
Johnson & Johnson suffered another blow in July when a New Jersey state judge said a $117 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America would stand. The lawsuit filed by Stephen Lanzo III and his wife against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys alleged that Stephen’s decades-long use of Johnson’s Baby Powder regularly unknowingly exposed him to asbestos, which led to his mesothelioma diagnosis.
Beasley Allen lawyers will continue to fight for the victims handed death sentences after using J&J’s talcum products in courtrooms throughout the country. For more information to discuss potential claims consumers can contact Beasley Allen for a free consultation.
Sources: Reuters, Beasley Allen, Law360
CNBC: Johnson & Johnson shares fall on report of asbestos in talcum
The New York Times: Baby Powder’s Possible Asbestos Link Worried Johnson & Johnson for Years
Chemical Watch: US Senator urges FDA to investigate J&J asbestos allegations