Supreme Court rejects attempts by J&J to block lawsuit claiming that its talcum powder can cause potentially-deadly diseases including ovarian cancer
- The Supreme Court has refused to block a lawsuit filed by Mississippi officials against Johnson & Johnson related to its talc based products
- State officials allege that the company failed to properly warn consumers about the risks of using their talc based powders, and links between talc and asbestos
- Talc is often produced from the same mines as asbestos, and cross contamination is a risk
- The FDA was allegedly aware of the risk but did not require the company to revise its label – which J&J argues is grounds to block the Mississippi case
- In 2018, the FDA found traces of asbestos in J&J produced baby powder and issued a recall
An attempt the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to stop a lawsuit against the company related to allegations its talcum powder causes ovarian cancer – among other diseases – was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
The case dates to 2014, when Mississippi sued J&J. Mississippi argues the company violated state law by failing to warn users of “dangerous and potentially lethal” health risks of using its products, which Mississippi says increase the risk of ovarian cancer in women.
The company argues that since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was aware of the risk but did not require it to revise its label, the company should be in the clear.
J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits after allegations arose that some its products that use talc – a type of mineral – often are contaminated with asbestos, which can pose a danger to its users.
Billions of dollars have already been awarded in damages to many women who developed cancer after using the products, which are popular for female hygiene.
The Supreme Court denied a J&J bid to block a Mississippi lawsuit accusing the company of not disclosing the risks of its talc based products to consumers. J&J’s baby powder (pictured) uses talc powder, which can often be contaminated with asbestos. There are allegations that such contamination caused ovarian cancer in dozens of women who used the product
Talc is a mineral used to create products like J&J’s baby powder.
WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. It’s usually linked to asbestos exposure.
It mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also affect the lining of the tummy (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart or testicles.
More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 60-80 and men are affected more commonly than women.
Unfortunately it’s rarely possible to cure mesothelioma, although treatment can help control the symptoms.
The symptoms of mesothelioma tend to develop gradually over time. They typically don’t appear until several decades after exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres that used to be widely used in construction.
These tiny fibres can easily get in the lungs, where they get stuck, damaging the lungs over time. It usually takes a while for this to cause any obvious problems, with mesothelioma typically developing more than 20 years after exposure to asbestos.
The use of asbestos was completely banned in 1999, so the risk of exposure is much lower nowadays. However, materials containing asbestos are still found in many older buildings.
Source: NHS Choices
While it is safe on its own, it is often produced from mines that contain asbestos, and cross contamination is possible.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral and humans that are exposed to it are at a severe risk.
Inhaling asbestos can cause a variety of issues for a person. Mesothelioma, a cancerous tumor that can form on the outside of a person’s lungs, heart and other organs, is most commonly associated with the mineral.
In October 2019, the FDA recalled the J&J powder after finding traces of asbestos in a bottle.
The FDA then performed a review of J&J talc products, and detected asbestos in nine of 43 samples tested.
Asbestos has been linked to ovarian cancer in some women whose genitals are exposed to the mineral. It has also been tied to lung and laryngeal cancer.
J&J has denied the link between these cancers and talc, though revealed documents show the company had been aware of the risk of asbestos contaminating its talc as far back as the 1970s.
Up until 2018, it was still denying any potential contamination of its products with asbestos.
Costly lawsuits began to roll-in for the company as early as 2016, though.
Five years ago, the family of St Louis’ Jacqueline Fox was awarded $72 million from the New Brunswick, New Jersey, based company.
Fox, 59, had died of ovarian cancer that her family believed was caused by her use of the baby powder.
A year later, more than 50 St Louis-area women filed another lawsuit against the company after it was revealed J&J was aware of potential asbestos exposure for decades.
Those women ended up being awarded $4.7 billion by a state jury, but that figure was later dropped to $2 billion after an appeal.
In total, the company is facing nearly 40,000 lawsuits tied to potential dangers related to the use of their talc products.
While their products have already been pulled from shelves in the U.S. and Canada, they are still available in other parts of the world.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court turned away a different talcum powder case involving a $2 billion verdict.