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Health officials in India are demanding that Johnson & Johnson turns over a complete list of ingredients in Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talcum powder-based products, due to concerns that they may contain asbestos or other carcinogens, according to a recent report.
Livemint.com published a report on July 25, indicating that anonymous sources told them that India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) sent an email to Johnson & Johnson on July 19, asking for the list of talcum powder ingredients.
According to the sources, the request was made due to concerns about the possibility of asbestos in its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products, which they said could be linked to alleged cases of talc-associated ovarian cancer.
CDSOC previously cleared the company’s products of asbestos in an earlier review in March 2016, during an inspection of a Johnson & Johnson manufacturing plant in Mumbai. However, concerns about their safety were renewed following a $4.7 billion verdict in a talcum powder trial earlier this month in Missouri.
The verdict came following a six week trial involving claims brought on behalf of 22 different women, each of whom alleged that ovarian cancer developed following years of using talcum powder around their genitals for feminine hygiene purposes. According to evidence presented at trial, the manufacturer failed to warn that talc ingredients in the powder may increase the risk of ovarian cancer when applied around the genitals.
The case was being closely watched as a potential “bellwether” for how other juries may respond to similar evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout more than 9,000 Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits pending nationwide, each raising similar allegations that women were not adequately warned about the risk of ovarian cancer from talc-based products used around their genitals.
Several prior Missouri juries have already awarded multi-million dollar verdicts to individual women in other cases.
In the U.S., claims of asbestos in talcum powder have followed a separate track than those claiming the products caused ovarian cancer. The asbestos claims here are linked to cases of mesothelioma, a fatal lung cancer only associated with asbestos exposure.
However, sources told Livemint that Indian officials fear that the asbestos could be linked to the ovarian cancer risks as well.
Johnson & Johnson has denied that its talcum powder products contain asbestos or are linked to increased ovarian cancer risks, and have vowed to appeal all of the jury verdicts against them.
Some analysts have suggested that more big awards returned in early trial dates may provide troubling signals for Johnson & Johnson in the talcum powder litigation, suggesting that juries find the company’s trial defense lacking in credibility.
Ultimately, if the company fails to negotiate talcum powder settlements for women with ovarian canceror otherwise resolve the litigation, thousands of individual cases may be set for trials nationwide in the coming years.