SACRAMENTO – An uptick in the filing of class-action
lawsuits stemming from a study linking talc to ovarian cancer can be largely traced
to advertisements aired by personal injury attorneys in the wake of a recent
verdict, according to Julie Griffiths of California Citizens Against Lawsuit
Johnson & Johnson was recently hit with a $72 million
verdict in a case filed by the family of an Alabama woman who died because her
use of the company’s baby powder and talc-based feminine hygiene products allegedly
led to ovarian cancer.
“The lawsuits are ramping up because the attorneys are
airing misleading ads claiming that anyone signing up for this lawsuit have a
real shot at a $72 million dollar settlement as well,” Griffiths told the Northern California Record. “Really, the
whole thing from our perspective are these ads, for this case. They are playing
all over satellite radio.”
Johnson & Johnson Consumer spokesman Carol Goodrich said
in a statement that the company would appeal the jury verdict entered in the judicial court for the city of St. Louis.
A study reported in May by the American Association for
Cancer Research revealed that use of body powders containing talc by African-American women increased their risk of getting ovarian cancer in comparison
with those who did not use talc.
The study, entitled “Association Between Body Powder Use and Ovarian Cancer: the African-American Cancer Epidemiology Study,” said previous
studies showed that use of genital powder increased the risk of ovarian cancer,
but that those results had “not been thoroughly investigated in African-American women, a group with a high prevalence of use.”
The study involving African-American women found that powder
use was prevalent in these women. The study also revealed an association
between powder use and upper respiratory conditions, suggesting that an
enhanced inflammatory response may explain the association between body powder
and ovarian cancer.
Some cancer genetics experts have warned women to stay away
from talc-containing powders for decades. However, Goodrich said “the jury’s
decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world
that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”
“Multiple scientific and regulatory reviews have determined
that talc is safe for use in cosmetic products and the labeling on Johnson’s
Baby Powder is appropriate,” Goodrich said.
Johnson & Johnson said two widely accepted studies,
including one published in 2009 by the Harvard School of Public Health and
another published in 2014 by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, found no
association between talc and ovarian cancer. The company said various
governmental and non-governmental agencies and other expert panels have also reviewed
and analyzed all available data, “and none have concluded that talc can cause
“It is natural for trial verdicts to raise questions about
the product involved, and it’s also important to distinguish jury verdicts – in
the United States – from regulatory rulings or rigorous scientific findings,”
Johnson & Johnson said.
Griffiths said CALA supports restrictions on personal injury
lawsuit ads “that promise fortunes and clog up our court systems.”
“Lawsuit abuse trends are rampant in California and continue
to grow,” Griffiths said. “Our motto is always justice, not greed.”