Forbes, Kori Hale
Facing almost 20,000 lawsuits by women who blame Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for causing cancer finally has a $100 million settlement from the manufacturer. The company agreed to settle 1,000 of these cases in bulk. Despite growing concerns of carcinogenic agents, the products giant continued to market and sell its baby powder to Black and Hispanic women. J&J JNJ -0.2% segmented its marketing campaign without proper disclosure to the public that its product could potentially cause cancer.
The Breakdown You Need To Know:
CultureBanx noted that J&J has been a longtime undisputed leader in talcum powder, a staple among African American households. Accused of aggressive marketing tactics, J&J commonly distributed samples of its iconic baby powder to beauty salons and churches throughout the Black community, putting these communities at a greater health risk. Investigations by Reuters revealed advertising campaigns sought to focus on geographical areas that were predominantly underdeveloped with higher Black and brown populations.
It was also found that special emphasis was placed on areas that were known for its humid weather. Baby powder mostly consists of talc, a mineral used to keep skin dry. They strategically distributed this product to a lesser sophisticated consumer in a geographical region that warranted high use of the product. With this subset of consumers, sometimes includes a lack of education and inherent trust in the perception larger companies carry.
Potential Powder Payments:
All of these reasons are why J&J was ordered to pay $4.69 billion in damages by a Missouri court in May 2019. The case brought by 22 women who blamed their ovarian cancer on its baby powder and other talc products. However, that amount was later reduced to $2.12 billion in June 2020. Bloomberg Intelligence estimated in July that settling all the outstanding cases could cost J&J as much as $10 billion.
Potential dangers with the use of baby powder dates back to the early 1970’s. Specifically, the ongoing round of talc powder ovarian cancer lawsuits have stretched out for four years, Forbes reported. The first reported talc powder lawsuit trial was held back in 2013.
J&J issued a recall of the company’s baby powder after the Food & Drug Administration detected a type of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in a product sample in October 2019. Fast forward to May 2020, the company announced it would stop selling talc-based baby powders altogether in the U.S. and Canada citing declines in product demand rather than safety concerns.
Johnson & Johnson has settled these 1,000 talc powder lawsuits “without an admission of liability” and continued to claim that the company’s “talc is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.” For women who used talc powder and have developed ovarian cancer, this settlement serves as an important reminder that it’s not too late to get justice.