On Tuesday, May 19th, 2020, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson made the executive decision to discontinue sales of their talcum-based baby powder products in the United States and Canada. According to the company, sales have been steadily decreasing due to “misinformation” from the media surrounding talc and its dangerous potential to cause cancer. However, years of mounting backlash and lawsuits tell a different story.
In a blow to the image of safety and uprightness that Johnson & Johnson attempts to present to the world, a report from the Food and Drug Administration indicated that traces of asbestos were discovered in a bottle of baby powder only 13 days after the corporation’s CEO, Alex Gorsky, publicly declared his firm and unshakable belief in the absence of asbestos from the talcum and baby powder sold by the company.
A longform investigative report emerged from Reuters in mid-December that offered some valuable – and disturbing – information into the long-standing efforts by Johnson & Johnson to hide the information emerging about the asbestos inside of its line of talcum powder products.
Despite the numerous lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson in relation to the ovarian and cervical cancer believed to stem from its talc powder, the company remains as insistent as ever that its products do not contain any of the asbestos that the plaintiffs believe caused their conditions. This past July, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri, decided firmly against the massive company, awarding 22 people a package of $4.69 billion in both compensatory and punitive damages.
For the past several years, Johnson & Johnson has been locked in numerous legal battles with consumers who claim that the talcum powder sold by the company has led to numerous cases of ovarian or cervical cancer. While many trials have been decided in favor of the plaintiffs, and while numerous awards – many of them reaching into the millions – have gone to those who became the unwitting victims of Johnson & Johnson’s many – decades long attempt to hide information from consumers, it remains true that the company insists that its products are not the cause of the terminal illnesses.
Every day, thousands and thousands of people across the country use talcum powder in order to dry excessive moisture from their skin as well as the skin of their young children. Talcum powder is, as its name suggests, composted primarily of talc (also known as talcum), a clay mineral that occurs naturally within certain spots in the earth and can be mined and turned into the useful powder without too much trouble. Within the United States, talcum mines exist in Texas, Vermont, New York, and Montana, and in each of these states numerous mines operate to pull talcum from the ground in order to transform it into the helpful powder.
On Monday, August 21, 2017, after a month-long trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, an L.A. jury has awarded a landmark judgement in the lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson in the amount of $417 million, marking the largest settlement to date in a series of talcum powder lawsuits against the company.
In an unprecedented move in St. Louis, Missouri, a jury found Johnson & Johnson liable in a civil suit concerning many of their products containing talcum powder this past Monday. At the center of the case, a man from Birmingham, Alabama spoke out again the well-known maker of personal care products. The victim he was fighting for was his mother, a woman who, at the age of 62, passed away from ovarian cancer. The lawsuit alleged that her cancer was linked to the use of Johnson & Johnson products, which she had used for decades.