Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for claims that its talc products cause cancer. These cases, alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talc “baby powder” products contain cancer-causing asbestos, are backed by a widely understood link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and other cancers.

As reported by the New York Times in July, a Missouri jury awarded a group of 22 women $4.69 billion in a lawsuit alleging that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products was the cause of their ovarian cancer. The award included $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson. Though the company moved to overturn the verdict, that motion was denied, and the damages – both compensatory and punitive – were upheld, reinforcing one of the largest personal injury verdicts on record. The New York Times article indicated that “The company has said concerns about talc’s being linked to cancer are based on inclusive research.” However, recently released documents, examined by Reuters, tell a different story. According to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson was aware of the presence of asbestos in its talc products as early as 1957 when an outside lab consultation produced a report to the company making reference to the presence of naturally occurring asbestos. A second report in 1958 contained similar findings. More lab testing followed with more findings of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson products.   

In 1976, for the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began limiting asbestos and was told by Johnson & Johnson that no asbestos had been detected in any sample of its talc products between 1972 and 1973. Recently produced documents examined by Reuters show that Johnson & Johnson had multiple lab reports showing positive asbestos findings, including one report showing “rather high” concentrations of asbestos. By the time lawsuits were filed against the company alleging that talc products caused cancer in plaintiffs, Johnson & Johnson had been covering up their knowledge of the contamination in their products for decades.   

The World Health Organization has recognized asbestos, a carcinogen, in talc baby powder since 1987.   

Evidence of the company’s knowledge of asbestos in its products seems clear. Exhaustive research has correlated asbestos exposure with cancer. But despite this, lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have had mixed results. Though headlines favor stories like the billion-dollar verdict in Missouri, at least three juries in the United States have found in favor of Johnson & Johnson.  

If you or someone you know developed ovarian cancer after regularly using John & Johnson’s talc-based baby power, you may have a case. Contact a SUGARMAN personal injury lawyer today. Fill out a Contact Form, call us at 617-542-1000 or email