January 9, 2015 — A federal judge in Missouri has allowed conspiracy claims to proceed against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit accusing the drug-maker of intentionally concealing the potential cancer risks of using talcum powder.
The lawsuit was filed by the husband of Shawn Blaes, a woman who died from ovarian cancer in January 2011. She regularly used talcum powder in the perineal area, including Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, from approximately 1972 until her death.
Last month, District Judge Ronnie L. White of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri allowed conspiracy claims to proceed after Blaes accused Johnson & Johnson of creating a task force with the illegal objective of preventing consumers from learning about the potentially harmful effects of talc use.
The case is set for trial on March 7, 2016.
Talc, the main substance in talcum powder, is an inorganic mineral also known as magnesium trisilicate. Studies have found that it can be absorbed through the vagina and into the ovaries when it is used in the genital area.
The first studies linking talc and ovarian cancer were published in the 1970s. Since 1982, there have been approximately 22 additional studies linking talc and ovarian cancer. Nearly all of them involve the genital use of talc in women.
In 1993, talc was found to be a carcinogen with asbestos-like fibers. Soon afterward, lawyers claim that Johnson & Johnson helped form a task force (TIPTF) to defend talc powder and prevent regulatory action.
According to the lawsuit:
“The TIPTF hired scientists to perform biased research regarding the safety of talc, members of the TIPFT edited scientific reports of the scientists hired by this group prior the submission of these scientific reports to governmental agencies, members of the TIPTF knowingly released false information about the safety of talc to the consuming public, and used political and economic influence on regulatory bodies regarding talc.”
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