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J&J Facing Talcum Powder Lawsuit After Spouse of Plaintiff Dies From Ovarian Cancer

Unlike Other Talcum Suits, Plaintiff Diagnosed With and Passed Away From Cancer

TRENTON, NJ—Janice Chakalos used Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brand of talc powder since childhood without any knowledge of the twenty-four studies linking its use, on the female genital area, to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Chakalos died of ovarian cancer in 2012, at the age of 63. In 1982, when she was 33, she was not aware of a key study linking talc powder use on the genital area to a greater risk of ovarian cancer.

J&J’s marketing messages have traditionally indicated that its talc powders are safe for women to use. In its ads, talc powder has been promoted as a product that covers up odors.

But a recently-filed lawsuit alleges that the company and other talcum powder manufacturers including Sanofi Aventis, Imerys Talc, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Chattem, failed to notify women that using talc products put them at greater risk of ovarian cancer, according to the New Jersey Law Journal

The suit, filed independently by Chakalos’ husband, James, was filed in Somerset County Superior Court on November 5, but was removed to federal court on Nov. 11 by lawyers for Chattem, according to the report.

“As early as 1961, researchers have demonstrated that particles similar to talc can translocate from the exterior genital area to the ovaries in women, the suit said. And a 1968 study concluded that talc contained asbestos-like fibers, according to the complaint,” the report said.

“The suit said that studies have shown corn starch is a suitable substitute for talc and has been found not to cause cancer,” continues the report.

According to the report, the suit claims that condom manufacturers stopped putting talc on their products in 1996 amid concerns about ovarian cancer, and the Canadian government classified talc as “very toxic” and “cancer causing,” the same category it assigns to asbestos.

“J&J has been named in other suits over its failure to warn about the risk of cancer from use of talcum powder, in federal courts in California and Illinois, but the plaintiffs in those suits have not been diagnosed with cancer, unlike the Chakalos case," the report said.