In a July 15 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, New York University Grossman School of Medicine Professor Judith T. Zelikoff remarked that Johnson & Johnson’s decision to remove Johnson’s Baby Powder from the U.S. and Canadian markets was a “milestone in women’s health and serves as a triumph for the scientific research that has evolved over the past 40 years.”
Zelikoff is deeply familiar with that scientific research, having immersed herself in more than 250 peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate a significant link between talc exposure and ovarian cancer. “There is no doubt in my mind that cosmetic talc can contain known carcinogens, including asbestos, fibrous talc, and heavy metals, which can never be completely removed from the finished powder.”
Johnson & Johnson had blamed its decision to stop selling its talc-based baby powder in North America on lagging sales and COVID-19. But analysts say safety concerns over the company’s iconic baby powder and mounting lawsuits from people who claim using the talcum powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, have turned consumers away from buying it.
Johnson & Johnson’s action comes as federal regulators in the United States are poised to require more enhanced screening models for cancer-causing substances found in raw talc. Health Canada is mulling a possible ban on talc in cosmetics, or at the very least tougher screenings. The European Union did away with talc-based powders years ago.
Back in the United States, a federal judge in New Jersey has found that science does have a place in the courtroom, allowing more than 17,000 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson to move forward while also ruling expert witnesses may speak on research that links talc to ovarian cancer.
“Science is never easy, as we have seen with the uncertainties and difficulties in controlling the spread of Covid-19,” Zelikoff wrote. “But science provides a direction and can offer an evaluation of the potentially deadly risks and negligible benefits associated with a consumer product.”
Beasley Allen lawyers represent women holding Johnson & Johnson accountable for their ovarian cancer diagnoses. We continue to investigate new cases involving women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for feminine hygiene. For additional information on these cases, contact Ted Meadows, Leigh O’Dell or Brittany Scott.