Health regulators in India have ordered Johnson & Johnson to disclose all ingredients contained in its talcum powder products, amid allegations that the talc used to manufacturer Baby Powder and other popular brands is carcinogenic.
The demand from India’s Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) comes just weeks after a Missouri state jury awarded $4.7 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to 22 women who said they developed ovarian cancer from asbestos-tainted talcum powder.
“Some people may dust powder after a shower and never think much of it. But recent court cases have brought a spotlight on the possible link between women’s regular use of talcum powder on their genitals and an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer,” an unidentified source told Mint. “The lawyers in the US alleged the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos. We want to be sure that the product marketed in India is safe and that’s why have written to them.”
The CDSCO had inspected Johnson & Johnson’s Mumbai manufacturing facility in 2016.
“While the powder was found to be safe then and no action was taken against the company, the recent cases have alerted the regulatory bodies once again,” the source continued.
For its part, Johnson & Johnson continues to deny that its talcum powders pose any threat.
“All Johnson & Johnson products meet and even exceed global regulatory standards,” a company spokesperson told Mint. “The safety of cosmetic talc is based on a long history of safe use and decades of research and clinical evidence by independent researchers and scientific review boards across the world.”
Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 9,000 U.S. lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly developed cancer due to their long-term use of the company’s talcum powder products. The recently concluded Missouri case was the first to put forth allegations that asbestos-tainted talc caused ovarian cancer.
The majority of talcum lawsuits involving Johnson & Johnson’s products were filed on behalf of women who claim that the mere use of the company’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene over an extended period of time is enough to cause ovarian cancer.
Since February 2015, 6 of these cases have resulted in multimillion dollar verdicts for Johnson & Johnson, with damages ranging from $55 million to $417 million. The company is currently appealing these verdicts and has so far managed to have three tossed.
Johnson & Johnson has also been named in a number of talcum powder lawsuits that allege asbestos-tainted talc caused plaintiffs to develop mesothelioma.
In April, a jury in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court awarded $117 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a man who alleged that his life-long use of Baby Powder was the only possible explanation for his mesothelioma diagnosis.
A month later, a California jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and its talcum suppliers to pay $27.1 million to a woman who allegedly developed mesothelioma due to asbestos in Baby Powder. The jury also awarded the plaintiff $4 million in punitive damages, after Johnson & Johnson acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.
Johnson & Johnson prevailed in another California mesothelioma trial last November. And just last month, a third California case ended in mistrial after the plaintiff passed away.