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Home >> Breaking News,Talc/Cancer >> Inside Look: Talcum Powder-Ovarian Cancer Evidence

Shawn Blaes, family, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Women’s Health Litigation, October 4, 2017 ~ Welcome to Women’s Health Litigation. Litigation reveals insider information that corporations would rather leave hidden.  WHL looks at the evidence forthcoming as both sides prepare for trial.

This is consumer information you need now!

In this case, discovery from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) reveals that the company gladly sold you talcum powder for feminine hygiene with assurances the light powder would help you stay “fresh” in the perineum (genital) area, but did not pass onto consumers the very warnings it was receiving about the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

That may be why jurors have so far awarded plaintiffs $300 million against the healthcare giant in this St. Louis court.

The next trial, scheduled for Monday, October 16, 2017, will be the sixth civil lawsuit in St. Louis that claims using J&J talcum powder – both Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower –  for some period of time can lead to the development of ovarian cancer.

The Blaes family is the sole plaintiff in this upcoming jury trial.

Shawn Blaes

Shawn Blaes, a Missouri resident at the time of her death, was one of the three plaintiffs in the June mistrial, declared by Judge Rex Burlington. The trial had just begun but was abruptly halted because of the Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Supreme Court ruling.

It said that plaintiffs and/or defendants may not choose favorable court jurisdictions where they do not have some connection.  See MND story on BMS here.

The other two plaintiffs in that trial were from Virginia and Texas.

Shawn Blaes, of Webster Groves, a suburb in St. Louis County, died of ovarian cancer January 12, 2011. She was 50 years old. She had been married for 25 years to husband, Mike, was the mother of twin boys. She loved her three golden retrievers and figure skating.

Here is her obituary.

Seer.cancer.gov

THE PETITION/COMPLAINT 

From approximately 1972 to 2011, Mrs. Blaes applied J&J talcum powder for genital hygiene. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2008.

She developed ovarian cancer, “as a direct and proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and Defendants’ wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder” says the Complaint.

Talc is also known as magnesium trisilicate, an inorganic mineral mined from the early.  Imerys Talc America mined the talc, which is the main component of talcum powder.

Johnson & Johnson says on its website, “Science, research clinical evidence and 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.” Here is another page on the J&J website explaining the controversy.

Imerys says there is no toxic effect from its talc and the dust is “inert.”

Imerys, website, mining talc

PTI Union, LLC manufactured the products, bottled labeled and packaged the products at the direction of J&J.

PTI Union’s manufacturing facility is headquartered in Union, Missouri, and may be added as a defendant to future actions in this court to remedy the jurisdictional question raised by the BMS decision.

As is often the case, these trials must show there was a viable alternative to talcum powder made by J&J. The complaint states that cornstarch is an organic carbohydrate quickly broken down by the body.

There were and continue to be no warnings on the talcum powder made by J&J.

Beasley Allen shows on its website, two talc products – one purchased from Dollar Tree store – Angel of Mine Baby Powder – and another from Walmart – Spring Fresh Powder.

Other talcum powder warnings, Beasley Allen website

Both have explicit warnings on the label!

Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer,” and “Medical evidence suggests that women who use talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product run a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.”

 


SHOULD HAVE KNOWN 

The complaint says the company should have known about the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder in 1971 when the first study was conducted by Dr. WJ Henderson in Wales.

By 1982, the first epidemiological study was conducted by Dr. Daniel Cramer which found a 92% increased risk in ovarian cancer among women using talc for genital use. Twenty-two additional studies since then have reported an elevated risk for ovarian cancer associated with genital talc use in women, according to the plaintiffs’ complaint.

Talc was found to be a carcinogen in a 1993 study by the US National Toxicology Program, whether it was found with or without asbestos-like fibers.

Material Safety Data Sheet

PTI Union received shipments of talc from Imerys and it was accompanied by a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which did warn of the ovarian cancer hazard associated with perineal talc use.

The MSDS accompanies products so that handlers can be warned about any potential hazards in the workplace

The MSDS supplied by Imerys Talc to J&J and PTI Union, warned of the ovarian cancer risk.


INDUSTRY PR GROUP

As might be expected, industry formed its own association the Talc Interested Party Task Force (TIPTF) to pool resources and defend talc use, and to prevent its regulation.  Scientists were hired to explain the safety of talc, while scientific papers were edited by scientists hired by industry, all to promote disinformation, says the complaint.

Dr. Sam Epstein, Cancer Prevention Coalition

The Cancer Prevention Coalition in November 1994 sent a letter to Johnson & Johnson CEO Ralph Larsen, informing him as far back and the 1960’s studies show “conclusively that the frequent use of talcum powder in the genital area pose a serious health risk of ovarian cancer.”

It said 14,000 women die every year from ovarian cancer which is very difficult to detect and has a low survival rate.

Cheryl Ladd for J&J

Instead, J&J advertised Johnson’s Baby Powder to “use every day to help feel soft, fresh, and comfortable.” The company advertised its other talcum powder product, Show to Shower with the slogan, “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away.” Another slogan was “Your body perspires in more places than just under your arms,” and “Shower to Shower can be used all over your body.”

Talc ad from The Cut

 

Studies show African-American women are more inclined to use vaginal deodorants, so J&J targeted marketing to the black community.

By 1996, the condom industry stop dusting condoms with talc due to health concerns of ovarian cancer.

Since 2006, the International Association for the Research of Cancer, part of the World Health Organization has classified perineal use of talcum body powder as a Group 2B human carcinogen.  Among women using talc genitally, IARC found an increase in ovarian cancer risk from 30 to 60%.

Canada has classified talc as D2A or very toxic, the same classification as asbestos.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) also contained a warning about the
Canadian Government’s D2A classification of talc and the MSDS was provided to J&J and its Defendants.

Therefore, “The Defendants had a duty to know and warn about the hazards associated with the use of the PRODUCTS,”  says the complaint.

Instead they not only failed to inform customers but “the Defendants procured and disseminated false, misleading, and biased information regarding the safety of the PRODUCTS to the public and used influence over governmental and regulatory bodies regarding talc.”

As a result of the Defendants “calculated and reprehensible conduct,” Plaintiffs were injured, namely ovarian cancer.

The plaintiffs allege failure to warn. Had the plaintiffs received a warning, they wound not used the products.

To this day, the J&J body powder still does not an adequate warning or instructions regarding the increased risk of ovarian cancer with use of the products.

LITIGATION

Imerys is also accused of negligence for providing the talk to J&J and knowing it would not be sold with a warning about the carcinogenic properties of talc.

J&J is facing a count of negligence as well for failing to warn, failing to properly test its products, failing to test for a risk of ovarian cancer and failing to remove the products from the market.

Count Four is breach of express and implied warranties since J&J expressly warranted through marketing and labels that its products were safe and effective for women to use in the genital area.

Other counts include:

Civil Conspiracy – Defendants conspired to deprive the decedent and plaintiff of informed free choice by willfully misrepresenting and suppressing the truth about the risks and dangers associated with the
products.

Defendant as part of the TIPTF (Talc Interested Party Task Force, an industry group) agreed to edit and delete portions of the scientific papers being submitted to the US Toxicology Program to prevent talc from being classified as a carcinogen.

Defendant also initiated “defense strategy” threatened litigation against the National Toxicology Program to prevent it from classifying talc as a carcinogen.  Defendants said “…we believe these strategies paid off.” The decedent relied on the fraudulent representations omissions and concealments.

Concert of Action –   The Defendants knew the products should contain warnings on the ovarian cancer risk but sought to suppress such information so as not to negatively affect sales and maintain the profits of Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc.

Negligent Misrepresentation – Defendants had a duty to truthfully represent to the medical community and to users that the products had been tested and found safe and effective for genital area use, but they failed to exercise ordinary care, and even insisted the products had no serious side effects breaching their duty.

Fraud/Concealment – Defendants willfully deceived or concealed material facts from consumers. Instead, consumers received advertisements and jingles assuring the products could be used all over your body, every day. Plaintiffs relied on those misrepresentations, which caused the plaintiff’s pain, ovarian cancer, lost wage and medical bills, pain and suffering.

Wrongful Death – And wrongful death for the seven women in this complaint who have died, all from ovarian cancer.

Punitive Damages – Their next of kin is entitled to recover both damages and punitive damages. ###

LEARN MORE:

Imerys Talc
http://www.imerystalc.com/content/corporate/About_talc/Health_and_safety_effects/index.php?source=region;2

EuroTalc, Scientific Association of European Talc Producers
http://www.eurotalc.eu/health-and-safety

Material Data Safety Sheet
http://www.beasleyallen.com/media/2017/05/Talc-Material-Data-Safety-Sheet.pdf

MND, Supreme Court Decision Forces Talc Plaintiffs out of MO Court, September 20, 2017
https://www.meshmedicaldevicenewsdesk.com/supreme-court-decision-forces-talc-plaintiffs-mo-court/

St. Louis Record, June 22, 2017, Due to high court ruling, mistrial declared in talc case against J&J
http://stlrecord.com/stories/511130392-due-to-high-court-ruling-mistrial-declared-in-talc-case-against-johnson-johnson

Fourth Amended Complaint August 14, 2017, Here

2008 study partially funded by industry-firm representing Luzenac America, a talc manufacturer, here

 

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