Johnson & Johnson Halts Talcum Powder Sales

Johnson & Johnson Talc Asbestos

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson raised the proverbial white flag, at least to an extent, when it said it would no longer sell its controversial baby powder in the United States and Canada.

“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that the move is part of a larger effort to discontinue low-performing products and promote other products in high demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Almost 20,000 dangerous product cases are pending, and J&J lawyer Kimberly Montagnino vowed not to settle any of them. Instead, the company “will continue to vigorously defend” its product, she said.

The Talc-Asbestos Link

Asbestos and talc are both fibrous minerals.

Miners often find them side by side. Additionally, these minerals often go to the same processing facility.

So, although they are used for very different purposes, cross-contamination is common.

According to one investigation, Johnson & Johnson has known about talc-asbestos cross-contamination for almost fifty years.

Yet the company has done nothing to tighten its production process or warn consumers about the potential risk.

These two failures are the basis for most defective drug claims, as outlined below.

Once talc fibers are ground into powder, the talc becomes extremely soft. So, talcum powder is a common cosmetic ingredient, either as a standalone product or as a filler in makeup or another product.

Unbeknownst to consumers, microscopic asbestos fibers often lurk in these cosmetic products, because of the aforementioned cross-contamination.

Asbestos is so toxic that just one fiber can alter cell DNA and cause cancer.

Over the decades, countless women have made talcum powder laced with asbestos fibers part of their daily hygiene routines.

These fibers eventually migrate through the fallopian tubes to the ovaries, where they cause ovarian cancer.

This aggressive form of cancer has a very high fatality rate. As a result, treatments are very expensive and often unsuccessful.

Your Claim for Damages

Failure to warn and an inherently dangerous product are two of the most common claims in dangerous drug and medical device cases.

Compensation is usually quite high in failure to warn cases.

In July 2018, a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay over $4 billion in punitive damages to twenty-two women in a talc/asbestos case.

These additional damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant recklessly disregarded a known risk.

Failure to warn claims are also quite common.

Generally, that’s because pharmaceutical companies invest so much money in new products that they cannot tolerate any warnings which might depress sales.

The dynamics are a bit different in talc-asbestos cases.

More on that below.

Defective product claims are a bit more common with regard to dangerous medical devices, such as hip implants. There are two basic kinds of defective product claims:

  • Design Defect: Some product designs are hopelessly flawed. But once the wheels start turning, many companies decide it is too expensive to retrace their steps and make the product safer. So, they sell the dangerous product anyway, thereby intentionally putting consumers at risk.
  • Manufacturing Defect: The talc-asbestos link is a manufacturing defect. As mentioned, talcum powder is a safe product, unless it is contaminated with toxic asbestos fibers. Product manufacturers are usually responsible for any defects which occur at any time during the production process.

Manufacturers are strictly liable for product defects. There’s no need to prove negligence or fault. Victim/plaintiffs need only prove causation.

Resolving a Talc-Asbestos Claim

Many dangerous drug claims, and most civil claims in general, settle out of court.

But talc-asbestos claims are different, and not because of money.

Talcum powder represents only a fraction of Johnson & Johnson’s sales in the United States and Canada. Yet J&J’s lawyers typically challenge the victim/plaintiff in court rather than settle the claim.

So why does J&J fight these claims so hard?

The company’s brand name is at stake. Johnson & Johnson styles itself as a baby supply company that sells family-friendly products. Talc-asbestos allegations critically damage that image.

Nevertheless, as adverse verdicts pile up, J&J becomes more willing to settle these claims out of court.

Frequently, such settlement occurs during voluntary mediation.

A third-party mediator works with both sides to facilitate a settlement. If both sides negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful.

Talc-asbestos victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced attorney, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.