Johnson & Johnson has recalled a shipment of baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered evidence of asbestos contamination, a development that may help thousands of lawsuits linking the company’s baby powder products to cancer.
Asbestos Detected in Baby Powder Sold Online
A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson announced the recall on October 18, 2019. The company insists this is a voluntary recall initiated “out of an abundance of caution” after the FDA found trace levels of chrysotile asbestos in samples taken from a bottle of baby powder purchased from an unidentified online retailer. The recalled lot, #22318RB, includes 33,000 bottles sold in the United States.
The recalled baby powder was produced and shipped last year. Johnson & Johnson’s spokesman said the company has started “a rigorous, thorough investigation into the matter” and is working with the FDA to “determine the integrity of the tested sample and the validity of the test results.”
Recall Comes Amid Thousands of Baby Powder Lawsuits
The recall represents the first time Johnson & Johnson has ever pulled its baby powder from the market – and it likely could not have come at a worse time for the pharmaceutical company. Johnson & Johnson is facing nearly 12,000 lawsuits from plaintiffs who claim that baby powder and other talc-based products caused them to develop cancer.
The vast majority of these lawsuits have focused on the purported link between cancer and talc, the key ingredient in talcum powder. Johnson & Johnson has largely been successful at defeating those legal challenges by arguing that the scientific research linking cancer with talc is flawed while countering with opposing studies. By 2018, the company had lost only six lawsuits that focused solely on the causal relationship between talc and cancer, with half overturned on appeal and one plaintiff awarded zero damages.
But three successful lawsuits and a New York Times investigation last year may have begun to turn the tide against Johnson & Johnson. All three of the successful verdicts were for cases in which the attorneys explicitly alleged that Johnson’s Baby Powder frequently contained asbestos, with one St. Louis jury awarding $4.69 billion to 22 women with ovarian cancer. The two other successful verdicts were for plaintiffs with mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that is considered the signature disease of asbestos exposure.
Unlike talc, asbestos has been known as an indisputable carcinogen for decades. Internal memos and reports made public as part of the litigation and the New York Times investigation revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew as far back as 50 years ago that its baby powder products had a high risk of containing asbestos. Nevertheless, the company did not warn the public about the risk.
In its announcement of the recent recall of asbestos-contaminated baby powder, Johnson & Johnson insisted that “thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos.” However, analysts argue that this new development will only serve to bolster the litigation against the company.
“[The recall] will undermine Johnson & Johnson’s defense claims,” said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor, adding that it will lead the company to “lose more suits or pay more to settle.”
Let a Personal Injury Lawyer Level the Playing Field
We are surrounded by products in our modern world. Whether it is the talcum powder in our medicine cabinets or the cars we drive to work, we trust that these products are safe. But what if they are not? What if something you purchased to make your family’s life better instead makes it far worse, or ends it entirely? How can you make sure that a multi-billion-dollar company will be held accountable for the harm it inflicted upon an average citizen?
This is where GWC Injury Lawyers can help you. For more than four decades, our Chicago personal injury attorneys have fought hard against corporate giants to level the playing field for ordinary people. And with over $2 billion recovered for our clients, we think our record of success speaks for itself.
If you have been wrongfully injured, contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.