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The Mississippi Attorney General’s office has launched an investigation into Johnson & Johnson’s marketing practices for talcum powder, more commonly known as Johnson’s Shower to Shower body powder.
The office of Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood issued a subpoena to the company recently, looking into whether Johnson & Johnson has been promoting talc as a feminine hygiene product. There are long-existing concerns that talcum powder can cause vaginal irritation and may increase the risk of cancer.
Johnson & Johnson has acknowledged that it received the subpoena, according to a report by Pharmalot. However, the company has made no further comment on the matter and the Mississippi AG’s office has not provided any details on the investigation.
The subpoena comes following a study published in June in the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research, which indicated that women who use powder containing talc had a 20% to 30% higher risk of ovarian cancer than those who do not. The study looked at data on about 2,000 women who used talcum powder on the genital area.
Older studies have found that talc body powder applied to a woman’s genital area can travel through the vagina and into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. According to the American Cancer Society, the findings throughout the years are inconclusive, but if there is an increased risk it is likely to be ovarian cancer and small.
Johnson & Johnson has faced a number of issues recently surrounding the safety of their products and manufacturing concerns, which have resulted in a number of recalls, including Risperdal Contsa and Motrin infant drops.
The company is struggling to rebuild its drug safety image after being stricken by years of recalls due to quality control problems, including a massive children’s drug recall issued in April 2010 due to manufacturing problems.
National attention was focused on Johnson & Johnson’s OTC drugs after an April 2010 recall of Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin, which affected affected 136 million bottles of children’s medications. That recall resulted in the shutdown of the company’s Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, plant and the temporary suspension of the production of all children medications manufactured by their McNeil subsidiary. Inspectors found a number of problems at the facility that included poor quality control measures, and inadequate and sometimes disjointed tracking and responses to consumer complaints.