Johnson & Johnson Lied to Consumers – And Knowingly Put Their Lives at Risk
January 3, 2019
Although this is not the first time we have written about Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) involvement in cases where consumers became ill or were injured from their products, it is the first time a major news outlet has claimed that the company knew there were deadly contaminants in its talcum powder products all along. International news agency Reuters uncovered several documents, many of which verify that J&J was not only aware its powder products were sometimes tainted with asbestos and other deadly carcinogenic agents, but also that it intentionally hid this information from unsuspecting consumers – some of whom developed deadly cancers as a result.
What led manufacturing giant J&J to conceal critical product safety and health information from the very people helping to keep the company alive by buying its products? Like so many other tragic cases, financial profits and greed are largely to blame. For years, the company has made claims that its baby powder products are safe for consumers to use – but thousands of consumers have developed different types of cancers after being exposed through long-term use to J&J talc and baby powder products.
What are Talcum and Baby Powders, and why are they Dangerous?
Talcum – also commonly referred to as “talc” – is a mineral made up mostly of silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. It is often used in products to cut down on friction and to reduce moisture, which makes it a popular choice for helping to prevent rashes and keeping the skin dry. Baby powder is an astringent powder sold for numerous purposes, such as:
- Preventing diaper rash;
- Deodorant, and:
- Many other cosmetic uses
Baby powder is often composed of talcum powder. In all of the cases initiated against Johnson & Johnson so far, ill and injured plaintiffs have cited years of talcum and talc-based baby powder use as the reason behind the growth of their cancer(s).
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), talcum powder that contains asbestos (which is commonly present in the earth) as “carcinogenic to humans,” and categorizes genital use of talc-based powders as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Asbestos and talc are both found in the layers of the earth – and usually nearby to one another, making it easy for talc to become contaminated with neighboring asbestos. Carcinogens are substances that can cause cancer or can help cancers grow.
Reuters’ team of investigators found incriminating documents dating all the way back to 1950’s – and the majority of these documents showed that J&J was 100% aware that its talcum powder products sometimes tested positive for being contaminated by asbestos. In addition, the Reuters investigation uncovered an array of internal company reports, memos, and emails between company executives, scientists, and lawyers discussing ways to avoid telling the public the terrifying and dangerous truth – and more importantly for the company’s higher ups, how to avoid losing money. Altogether, the Reuters team went through more than 60 years’ worth of previously unearthed documents.
Over the years, J&J has been able to avoid providing its internal documents to federal and police agencies, and was never required to release them in trials against sick or dying consumers (who were made ill by J&J’s very own products). Here are just a few examples of what J&J’s internal documents said – and remember: the public is seeing many of these for the first time ever:
- A lab first told Johnson & Johnson that its products contained tremolite – a naturally occurring form of asbestos – in 1957, and:
- In 1976, Johnson & Johnson told the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it had never detected asbestos in any sample of its talc products; in fact, at least three different tests had found asbestos in J&J’s products just years before (1972-1975)
Thousands of Sick Consumers
So far there have been several successful – as well as several unsuccessful – claims filed by plaintiffs against Johnson & Johnson. Some women who developed ovarian cancer after regularly using J&J talc-based powders as deodorant and perineal (genital) antiperspirants have been awarded large sums of money to cover damages. Additionally, other injured individuals – like those who developed mesothelioma (a cancer that grows in the thin layer of tissue that covers most internal organs; the chest walls and lungs are the most commonly affected organs by this disease) – after long-term use of J&J’s products have also been successful in filing legal claims against the company.
What is J&J Saying?
It is hard to believe, but J&J still has the audacity to claim that its products are safe for consumers to use. Time and time again, the company shows that all it cares about is making money – not whether or not people get sick or die – so long as its employees are able to line their pockets. Johnson & Johnson also says it plans to appeal numerous court cases where verdicts were brought against the company. Regardless of how many times representatives from Johnson & Johnson claim that the company’s talc-based powders are safe for consumers to use, the stories of the thousands of ill, injured, and/or deceased victims tell quite a different tale.
Information for Sick Consumers who Used J&J Talc-Based Products
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year, and Planned Parenthood estimates that there are between 20,000 and 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States. Both mesothelioma and ovarian cancer can be deadly, particularly if they are caught late.
Some common symptoms of mesothelioma include anemia, bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, and pain and/or swelling in the abdominal area. Many doctors say that early stage ovarian cancer is commonly symptomless, but when symptoms are present they can include:
- Abdominal pain;
- Feeling full after eating very little;
- Abdominal enlargement and/or swelling, and;
- Fatigue and tiredness
If you are someone who uses Johnson & Johnson talc-based products and you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, we recommend that you consult with a trusted medical professional. If you have questions about being diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after using J&J products (or any other talcum powder-based powders), do not hesitate to contact a representative at our firm who can help assist you.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured by Dangerous Products
If you or one of your loved ones developed cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products, please contact the Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.