Last week, a Reuters investigative report revealed that Johnson & Johnson has known that the talc used in its baby powder was occasionally tainted with asbestos, and they kept this information from consumers and regulators. The article centered around Darlene Coker, who may have been the first consumer to file a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson after suspecting a link between her use of J&J talc products and her rare, but deadly, lung disease, mesothelioma.
Ms. Coker’s 1999 lawsuit, alleging that the poisonous talc in J&J’s products was killing her, ultimately had to be dropped for lack of evidence linking the disease in her lungs with the J&J products she had used on her two daughters and herself for decades. For its part, J&J denied Coker’s claim and managed to avoid handing over internal documents which might tell a different story.
Now, thanks to the countless lawsuits against the pharmaceutical giant by women who have contracted uterine and other cancers, J&J has been forced to divulge thousands of pages of company documents. Some of those documents reveal that from 1971 to the early 2000s, some of J&’s talc tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. Instead of informing consumers about the potential danger to their health, company executives instead worried about how to address the problem. Per the New York Times:
“An executive at Johnson & Johnson said the main ingredient in its best-selling baby powder could potentially be contaminated by asbestos, the dangerous mineral that can cause cancer. He recommended to senior staff in 1971 that the company ‘upgrade’ its quality control of talc. Two years later, another executive raised a red flag, saying the company should no longer assume that its talc mines were asbestos-free. The powder, he said, sometimes contained materials that ‘might be classified as asbestos fiber.’”
In short, they knew – and they did nothing.
The fall out from the latest bombshell report
J&J is facing around 12,000 defective product lawsuits from women claiming that their use of baby powder caused their uterine cancer. The company has doubled down on their claim that there is not a link between its talc products and cancer. In a news release, Johnson & Johnson called the Reuters article, “one-sided and inflammatory.”
According to a follow up article in Reuters, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), who sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to the FDA directing the agency to investigate the findings, and determine whether Johnson & Johnson has misled the FDA, and whether their products pose a threat to consumer health and safety.
Darlene Coker died in 2009 at age 63 without ever having learned why she had mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson continues to defend the safety of its talc products.
At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we will continue to follow this story and keep you informed about this and other consumer products that could be causing harm.
The skilled Phoenix defective product lawyers at Plattner Verderame, P.C., have the experience and resources to advocate strongly for the compensation you deserve in the aftermath of your injuries and losses after using a defective product. You can schedule a free consultation by calling us today at 602.783.8793 or using our contact form to send us a message. We represent injured clients throughout Arizona.