In another high-profile case, a California woman has won 70$ million in her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. She claimed the daily use of their talcum powder was directly responsible her ovarian cancer.
The company, which also sells pharmaceuticals, medical devices & consumer goods has had over 2,000 more cases filed against their baby powder products.
“It’s been a long-fought battle,” Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California told NBC news. “I was just elated, so relieved it was over. I felt like I accomplished something. … There were happy tears and just joy.” (1).
Giannecchini was 59 when she was diagnosed in 2012.
“The jury ruling ended the trial that began Sept. 26 in the case brought by Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California… The suit accused Johnson & Johnson of ‘negligent conduct’ in making and marketing its baby powder,” reports Global News (2)
Johnson & Johnson’s Response
Despite numerous studies that have proven the connection between ovarian cancer and talcum powder, the company denies any relation.
After the verdict in favor of Giannecchini, Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, said in the statement to Global news: “We deeply sympathize with the woman and families impacted by ovarian cancer…We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
This comes after the Missouri state jury awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox a total of 72$ million after her ovarian cancer death. This is split in $10-million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages. Another woman in Dakota, who survived the disease was awarded $55 million in May. Unfortunately, many of the other lawsuits have been thrown out in court.
Giannecchini’s suit accused Johnson & Johnson of “negligent conduct” because she was unaware that the baby powder could have any negative effects on her body. To this day, the label on Johnson & Johnson’s product has no mention of heightened ovarian cancer risk.
The Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Link
“We are pleased the jury did the right thing. They once again reaffirmed the need for Johnson & Johnson to warn the public of the ovarian cancer risk associated with its product,” Jim Onder, an attorney for the plaintiff, told The Associated Press.
He says that case studies have found that women who regularly use talc on their genital area, which is a common practice among overweight, Hispanic, and African-American women, are 40% more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Onder has even accused Johnson & Johnson of marketing towards these women, who are already at a higher risk of developing the disease.
In fact, Blomberg notes that “in the 1990s, even as the company acknowledged concerns in the health community, it considered increasing its marketing efforts to black and Hispanic women, who were already buying the product in high numbers.”(3)
And he’s not completely wrong: The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the genital use of talc as “possibly carcinogenic.”
And it’s nothing new, British scientists reported in 1971 that talc particles were found deep within 10 or the 13 ovarian tumors studied. Since then, multiple studies have confirmed the connection.
Other lawsuits have uncovered incriminating evidence that found that “It was really clear [Johnson & Johnson] were hiding something.”
Talc is also used in cosmetics, chewing gum, as well as ceramics, paint, paper, plastic, and rubber. The mineral used in Johnson & Johnson’s products are sourced in Guangxi, China.
Johnson & Johnson has spent more than $5 billion on payouts to affected consumers. For one, the giant forked over $2.2 billion (one of the largest health fraud penalties in U.S. history) after having illegally marketed Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug, to children and elderly adults.
It has also paid $2.8 billion to resolve lawsuits for faulty artificial hips and $120 million for default vaginal-mesh inserts.
The lawsuits have been necessary because the FDA does not currently have the authority to approve and regulate many of the medical and personal products on the market. “It shouldn’t be up to consumer groups or jurors to try to make decisions about toxic products,” says Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
But the lawsuits have made an impact : Johnson & Johnson has removed triclosan, formaldehyde, and some other harmful chemicals from its baby products.
Dr. Richard Horton, current Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, one of the largest medical journals in the world, warns that denial of scientific proof is a major problem among corporations, which he calls negligence and outright fraud.
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” (4)
Foster Gamble, the direct descendant of one of the founders of Procter & Gamble has even admitted to being groomed by the giant (which is similar to Johnson & Johnson) to throw his ethical concerns out the window. He was advised to throw studies that found fault in the ingredient out the window. You can hear his story here.