Chemical Watch reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated two projects in response to questions about the safety of talcum powder for feminine hygiene that have arisen in the wake of lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson. Three Missouri juries last year found the company responsible for women’s ovarian cancer and ordered J&J pay plaintiffs and their families damages of $72 million, $55 million and $70 million respectively. In one of the cases talc supplier Imerys Talc was also held liable.
Hundreds more women are suing the company across the country in both state and federal court. There is currently a trial underway in Missouri and a case scheduled for trial in July in California state court.
These cases allege that Johnson and Johnson should have been aware of research linking talc to ovarian cancer as early as 1971 and that the company was certainly aware of another study published in 1982, because a Johnson and Johnson employee allegedly visited the author of that study to discuss his findings. Over the years since then, many studies have been conducted on the subject.
In January, researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Tisch Cancer Institute in Manhattan performed a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies that have already studied talc and ovarian cancer, 24 case-control studies and three cohort studies, and found a 20 percent higher risk for women who say they used talc, compared to women who say they did not use it.
An FDA spokesperson told Chemical Watch that the agency’s Office of Color and Cosmetics plans to update its review of the epidemiological studies that have been published on the subject.
Beyond that, the FDA has begun its own lab research study examining talc’s effects on female genital system tissues. Funded by the Office of Women’s Health, the talc ovarian cancer research is expected to be completed in several years.
“Specifically, the association of such oncogenesis, with respect to exposure to [talc], is of particular interest to women’s health, and our studies could prove to be useful as possible experimental models for further mechanistic studies in ovarian carcinogenesis,” says the research summary, according to Chemical Watch.