Johnson & Johnson and one of its distributors cannot skirt a lawsuit brought by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood alleging the companies did not warn Mississippians that their talc-containing products could put women at risk for ovarian cancer, Hinds County Chancellor J. DeWayne Thomas ruled.
Hood’s lawsuit accuses J&J and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, distributor of its Shower to Shower talc-containing body powder, of violating the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) by not putting a warning on the label that genital use of the product for feminine hygiene could increase the risk for ovarian cancer. The two companies sought to have the case dismissed on the basis that the MCPA does not cover cosmetics labeling. Chancellor Thomas denied their bid.
Hood filed the lawsuit in August 2014 accusing the companies of false advertising and misrepresentation for not informing Mississippi consumers that scientific data had linked perineal use of talc to ovarian cancer. Even more troubling, the lawsuit alleges, is that the companies specifically targeted African-American and Hispanic women – groups that had higher rates of ovarian cancer. About 40 percent of the state’s population is black or Hispanic.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 11,000 lawsuits alleging its talcum powder products caused cancer. In July, the company was slapped with a $4.69 billion verdict in a case brought by 22 women who alleged Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contains cancer-causing asbestos and contributed to their ovarian cancer diagnoses.
The company also faces lawsuits alleging use of its talc products caused mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.