Johnson & Johnson baby powder ad

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Causes Cancer?

So far, the Courts seem to agree — in a big way. 

Since 1893, Johnson’s baby powder has been used around the world. The ads say things like, “Want to feel cool, smooth and dry?   Johnson’s Baby Powder does for grown-ups what it does for babies.  It’s the world’s finest powder, made of the softest purest talc.  And what’s best for baby is best for you.”

Is it?

Johnson’s Baby Powder has been one of America’s most trusted products for generations of babies and adults.  Now, the reputation of the brand and the company that makes it is in serious jeopardy.

Early this month (May 2016) the New Jersey based corporation Johnson & Johnson has suffered its second costly court defeat in less than three months over claims its talcum powder caused cancer.  And many more cases are looming, according to a CNN report.

In the latest case, a St. Louis jury awarded $55 million in damages to Gloria Ristesund, who used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for more than 35 years before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011.  Ristesund’s lawyers argued that Johnson & Johnson knew of possible health risks associated with talc, but failed to warn consumers.  Johnson & Johnson said it plans to appeal the verdict. 

“Multiple scientific and regulatory reviews have determined that talc is safe for use in cosmetic products and the labeling on Johnson’s Baby Powder is appropriate,” Carol Goodrich, a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson Consumer, said in a statement.

Yet just this past February, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of of a woman who died of ovarian cancer in 2015.

It seems Johnson & Johnson’s legal woes are far from over.  These latest verdicts are part of a legal action that includes nearly 50 plaintiffs.

Because products containing talcum powder are classified as cosmetics, they do not have to undergo review by the Food and Drug Administration.  However, they must be properly labeled and “they must be safe for use by consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use,” the FDA states.

This series of lawsuits are just the latest for the company that has been beleaguered with other legal issues through the years.   The public probably doesn’t realize how many brands – besides baby powder – are part of the Johnson and Johnson family.


The company that invented the Band-Aid adhesive bandage in 1920 is also responsible for such brands as Tylenol. In 2011 the FDA confirmed a link between Tylenol and liver damage.  More lawsuits ensued.

Tylenol has been recalled more than once. The first Tylenol recall happened in 1982, after seven people died from taking cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol.  J&J immediately recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol, but never discovered who had tampered with the seven bottles. J&J suffered another massive recall in 2012 when it recalled thousands of bottles of Tylenol again, this time removing 500,000 bottles of infant Tylenol because of dosing problems.

J&J developed a suture business known as Ethicon, in 1949.  That led to minimally invasive surgery techniques, where small incisions allow patients to heal quicker.  As the new century dawned, Ethicon came under fire for its transvaginal mesh implants, which are designed to treat gynecological conditions. After debilitating side effects from women who received the implants, Ethicon stopped the manufacture of several of its mesh products in 2012. In February 2013, a New Jersey jury required Johnson & Johnson to pay $11.11 million  after a woman suffered from its Ethicon mesh products. In late 2014 and early 2015, the company settled more than 100 mesh lawsuits for undisclosed amounts. In March 2015, a jury sided with another woman against Ethicon and awarded her $5.7 million. J&J is still facing more than 25,400 federal mesh lawsuits and countless suits in state courts.

In 2008, consumers began to complain that certain J & J drugs had varying problems like a moldy smell, bacteria, and metal pieces in the products.  Two years later the FDA launched an investigation, and one of J&J’s units, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, conducted a series of recalls covering 288 million items, including liquid Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl because of quality control problems.

Johnson and Johnson products Risperdal and Invega were recalled in 2011.  J&J recalled two lots of Risperdal because of contamination issues.  The same year, the company recalled 70,000 Invega syringes because of cracks.  In 2013, injectable forms of Risperdal called Risperdal Consta were recalled because of issues with mold.

Johnson & Johnson also faced charges of illegal marketing.  In 2013, J&J paid $2.2 billion to the federal government and several states for illegal promotion of drugs, including Risperdal and Invega.

The list of Johnson and Johnson’s legal headaches also include lawsuits against their subsidiary DePuy, the makers of orthopedic devices and supplies. In 2010, DePuy was the top manufacturer of hip implants.  The first three De Puy hip lawsuits were settled in the summer of 2012 for $200,000 each. The first verdict, which was handed down in March 2013, ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $8.3 million.  In November 2013, J&J agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle  7,500 state and federal ASR lawsuits.

The list goes on to include legal issues involving  a J & J blood thinner called Xarelto and an antipsychotic drug known as Risperdal.  Hundreds of lawsuits are still pending.

Johnson & Johnson also is a big part of the diabetes drug market. It developed the Type 2 diabetes drug Invokana.  In 2014 the FDA issued a warning for people taking Invokana.  This time the agency warned the drug could increase the risk of bone fractures and decrease bone mineral density. With all of the problems surrounding the drug, experts expect people harmed to begin filing lawsuits.

Analysts predict that J&J will need to have a long period without recalls to keep profits up.  CEO Alex Gorsky addressed the problem of maintaining J&J in a time of economic uncertainty.  He said, “We’ve got to reinvent how we think about health care.”

Gorsky carries a heavy responsibility if he wants Johnson & Johnson to maintain its reputation as a trusted family company in a climate of mounting lawsuits related to its defective products.

It seems there is a long, tough road ahead for Johnson & Johnson as they struggle to hold onto their once strong reputation as a “family company.”

The lawyers at Theodoros & Rooth, P.C. are very concerned about all of these issues regarding Johnson & Johnson products, including a product people thought they could trust for generations – Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.

If you have used Johnson & Johnson baby powder and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, please call the attorneys at Theodoros & Rooth immediately.  Theodoros & Rooth is taking an active role in fighting for the victims of alleged negligence and the irresponsibility of any manufacture, including the global giant Johnson & Johnson. Your initial consultation and case review is free, and there are no attorney fees unless we are successful in your case.


– Information gathered through research into a variety of media reports.