ST. LOUIS (CN) - A federal class action claims that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder, used in the genital area, causes a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Denis Mikhlin and Erin Hoffmann filed the class action against the pharmaceutical giant in Federal Court.
At issue is talc, the main ingredient in Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. Talc is a hydrous magnesium silicate, an inorganic material mined from the earth. There are talc mines throughout the United States. Talc is number 1, the softest mineral on the 1 to 10 Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
"Johnson's Baby Powder is not safe," the complaint states. "As numerous studies have confirmed, Johnson's Baby Powder leads to a significant increased risk of ovarian cancer. Women who used talc-based powders to powder their genital area have a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those women who never used the powders.
"Despite the potential catastrophic health consequences, defendants do not tell consumers about the dangers associated with the talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder. Instead, defendants continue to expressly and impliedly represent that the product is safe and intended for women to use the Baby Powder in the very manner most likely to result in an increased risk of ovarian cancer."
Johnson & Johnson markets the baby powder as a means of eliminating friction on the skin and absorbing moisture, while keeping skin cool and comfortable. The plaintiffs claim Johnson & Johnson encourages consumers to use the powder on infants after every bath and diaper change and for women who want their skin to feel soft, fresh and comfortable.
The plaintiffs claim Johnson & Johnson markets its baby powder as safe, and that the only warnings to the public are to avoid getting it into eyes, avoid inhalation and to use it only externally. They claim that Johnson & Johnson has known about the cancer risk for more than 30 years.
"As early as 1982, defendants were acutely aware of the scientific evidence linking ovarian cancer and perineal use of talcum powder," the complaint states. "In an August 12, 1982, New York Times article entitled 'Talcum Company Calls Study on Cancer Link Inconclusive,' defendants admitted being aware of the 1982 Cramer study that concluded women were three times more likely to contract ovarian cancer after daily use of talcum powder in the genital area."
The plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson continues to deceive the public about the powder's safety, despite mounting evidence accumulated through studies since 1982.
"Despite defendants' knowledge, defendants failed to inform plaintiffs and the class of material facts and misrepresented material facts in connection with the sale of Johnson's Baby Powder," the complaint states. "Defendants' omissions and representations constitute deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practices and omission, concealment, and suppression of material information in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce in or from the state of Missouri."
In October 2013, a South Dakota federal court found that Johnson & Johnson caused a woman's ovarian cancer and was negligent in failing to warn about the dangers of its talc-based baby powders, according to the complaint.
Three additional lawsuits have been filed since January 2014 this year, claiming that Johnson & Johnson's gave the plaintiffs ovarian cancer.
The class consists of all Missouri residents within the past five years who have bought Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. They seek class certification and punitive damages for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, restitution, and a corrective advertising campaign.
Plaintiffs are represented by Kevin P. Green of Goldenberg Heller Antognoli & Rowland in Edwardsville, Ill.