A Chicago woman has filed suit against Walgreens in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming that the retailer worked closely with Johnson & Johnson to market its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc-based powders. According to a report from Crain’s Chicago Business, Andrea Harris claims that her prolonged use of talcum powder resulted in the development of ovarian cancer.
In her March 1st filing, Harris states that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015. Between 1980 and 2006, she regularly purchased Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talcum powders from Walgreens. Harris asserts that her regular and repeated use of these products contributed to the development of the disease.
The complaint points out that Walgreens maintains a joint office with Johnson & Johnson in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, where business plans are formulated for distributing and marketing talcum powder and other Johnson & Johnson products pecifically to Walgreens’ shoppers.
“J&J and Walgreens implement strategies to influence consumers’ purchase of J&J baby powder products from Walgreens, including through data analytics of customers’ purchases and loyalty and rewards programs,” the suit alleges.
Harris claims that the first study suggesting a link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer was published in 1971. In 1982, the first epidemiological study to investigate these concerns found a 92% increased risk for ovarian cancer among women who reported genital talc use.
“Since 1982, there have been more than twenty-seven (27) additional epidemiologic studies providing data regarding the association of talc and ovarian cancer,” the complaint states. “Nearly all of these studies have reported an elevated risk for ovarian cancer associated with genital talc use in women.”
The complaint charges that Johnson & Johnson and Walgreens are aware of this research, yet continued to market Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower as a safe way for women to “feel soft, fresh and comfortable.”
Johnson & Johnson acknowledged in a recent U.S Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that it had been name a defendant in at least 3,000 lawsuits involving talcum powder and ovarian cancer. It is not clear how many others include Walgreens as a defendant. Centralized litigatons for these claims have been established in state courts in Missouri, New Jersey, California and Delaware. Late last year, all federally filed talcum powder lawsuits involving Johnson & Johnson were centralized in a multidistrict litigation currently underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court for St Louis City has convened four talcum powder trials over the past year. Plaintiffs prevailed in three, with jury awards totaling $197 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson won its first verdict earlier this month. Missouri’s fifth talcum powder trial is scheduled to begin in April.