Pharmacology expert witness Laura Plunkett testified in the Los Angeles Superior Court case against Johnson & Johnson regarding the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Lead plaintiff Eva Echeverria states that the use of the pharmaceutical company’s products Baby Powder and Shower to Shower caused her ovarian cancer. Hundreds of women have filed lawsuits in California. Echeverria is the first to go to trial in Los Angeles. Approximately 2,000 state and federal lawsuits are pending against the pharmaceutical company.
Plaintiffs in the nationwide talcum powder litigation allege that J&J was long aware of studies linking genital talc use to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but failed to warn the public of the risk. Echeverria’s July 25, 2016, complaint listed failure to warn, design defect, negligence, breach of express warranty, negligent misrepresentation, deceit by concealment, and fraud. The FDA states:
Published scientific literature going back to the 1960s has suggested a possible association between the use of powders containing talc and the incidence of ovarian cancer. However, these studies have not conclusively demonstrated such a link, or if such a link existed, what risk factors might be involved. Nevertheless, questions about the potential contamination of talc with asbestos have been raised since the 1970s.
In May 2017, a St. Louis jury awarded $110.5M to a plaintiff diagnosed with ovarian cancer which spread to her liver. In 2016, St. Louis jury verdicts totaled $197M in three cases against J&J. Echeverria’s lawsuit has similar allegations against J&J as the St. Louis plaintiffs which include:
J&J had internal knowledge for decades of scientific studies that showed talc used on the genital area could cause particles to travel up the fallopian tubes and cause cancer.
J&J supposedly knowingly withheld that information from the general public to protect the sales of popular brands, and continued to do so, even when it began to sell safer cornstarch-based powder products.
In lawsuits against J&J, pharmacology experts have educated juries in complex medical matters as to whether there is a connection between long term use of J&J personal products and ovarian cancer.
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