The woman was the first plaintiff to file a litigation against the pharmaceutical giant back in 2009, and her case was the first one that went to trial in the United States. According to the New York Post, Berg was offered an out of court settlement of $1.3 million, although the woman refused it. “It was never about the money,” she said during an interview, explaining that she didn’t want to sign a confidentiality clause that would prevent her from warning the rest of the world about the alleged dangers associated with the baby talcum powder.
The jury confirmed that the J&J contributed to an ovarian cancer she was diagnosed with in 2016, although they did not award her with any compensation. The family of Jacqueline Fox, another woman who died because of this same cancer in October 2015, was awarded $72 million in compensation. A St. Louis jury held Johnson & Johnson liable for negligence, conspiracy, and failure to warn women about the increased risk of cancer associated with using Baby Powder in the genital area.
Plaintiffs who filed a Talcum powder lawsuit claim that exposure to the talc found in cosmetic products such as baby and adult powders, may have been the reason they developed cancer in later years. According to their accusations, Johnson and Johnson intentionally hide all the evidence they had in their hands about a potential link between talcum powder and increased cancer risk. For more than 40 years, the manufacturer decided not to warn women about the risks and kept selling their products to adults as well as babies.
A large controversy surrounds the question of whether talc may increase the risk of cancer, but epidemiologic evidence found a correlation. Ovarian cancer risk, in particular, seems to be increased by 30–60 percent when the talcum powder enters the ovaries through the external genitalia after being applied on sanitary napkins, condoms, and other birth control devices.
The real mechanism of action through which talcum powder may increase the risk of cancer is still unknown, although it has been suggested that chronic inflammation plays a substantial role in carcinogenesis. Carcinogenicity has also been linked with the talc natural similarities with asbestos or potential contamination due to their environmental co-occurrence. However, even asbestos-free products seemingly showed an increased risk of cancer.
Since 1999, the American Cancer Society suggested that cornstarch products are a good alternative for the genital area, and the same J&J now produces a safer cornstarch-based surrogate which is sold at the same price.