Plaintiffs in the ongoing St. Louis Johnson & Johnson talcum powder trial have alleged that J&J secretly funded research that concluded talcum powder does not cause ovarian cancer. The research was conducted by researchers retained by Crowell & Moring LLP, a law firm also retained by Luzenac, now known as Imerys. Imerys is J&J’s primary talc supplier and settled with plaintiffs for $5 million prior to trial.

The Research

The existence of the study was revealed when the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Mark Lanier, showed the jury the videotaped deposition of J&J’s Chief Medical Officer, Joanne Waldstreicher. In her deposition, Lanier showed Waldstreicher email correspondence from 2005 between Crowell partner Ridgway Hall Jr. and J&J Consumer Products’ Toxicologist Steven Mann that discussed an upcoming talc study. “Our plan is for Crowell & Moring to retain the doctors so as to preserve the benefit of the attorney work-product privilege, which is helpful in protecting confidentiality,” wrote Hall to Mann. Hall also wrote that he understood J&J was willing to split the $20,000 cost of the study with Luzenac.

The researchers then published a study, “Perineal Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: A Critical Review” in 2008 in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. The study acknowledged other studies finding a link between talc and ovarian cancer but ultimately dissented. On the last page, a footnote stated that there was funding for the study from “a contract from Crowell Moring Inc.”

Lanier asked Waldstreicher under oath why J&J was not disclosed as the source of funding. Waldstreicher responded, “I haven’t seen these before today… I don’t believe it was Johnson & Johnson’s goal to hide anything… And it’s the authors’ responsibility to disclose the funding.”

Asbestos Claims

Plaintiffs also claim that the talc in J&J’s baby powders contains asbestos. J&J denies that claim, and Waldstreicher repeated throughout her deposition that she was assured by J&J safety experts that there was no asbestos in their products. Lanier then showed Waldstreicher a document called, “Findings on Johnson & Johnson products from a report by Dr. S. Lewin, Consultant to the FDA,” which showed samples of J&J powders contained chrysotile asbestos. The St. Louis trial includes 22 plaintiffs and is expected to last throughout the summer.

GoldenbergLaw Can Help

GoldenbergLaw is currently investigating the use of talcum powder and its link to ovarian cancer. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, contact us.