Talc-Based Powder on a Woman's HandThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued any formal warnings about the risk of talcum powder but is currently reviewing scientific studies and reports of asbestos contamination in talcum-based products. Talcum powder is not a drug that is regulated by the FDA. Instead, it is classified as a cosmetic under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

How the FDA Regulates Cosmetics

The FDA:

  • Does not review or approve cosmetic products before they are sold to consumers in the United States
  • Requires cosmetics to be properly labeled with all ingredients
  • Requires cosmetics to be safe when used according to the directions on the label or consistent with customary use
  • Monitors for safety problems with cosmetics and takes action when necessary to protect the public. However, any action may only be taken if the FDA has, “… sound scientific data to show that it is harmful under its intended use.” 

Therefore, as a cosmetic, talcum powder is regulated in a very different way than prescription medications.

The FDA Has Not Issued a Talcum Powder Warning... But Others Have

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that repeatedly inhaling talc could hurt the lungs.

The World Health Organization through its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) claims that talc-based products are generally non-carcinogenic, but maintains that there could be a small risk of cancer when a talc-based powder is used on the genitals.

Additionally, the European Union has banned talc as an ingredient in cosmetic products. However, talc can still be used in cosmetic products in the United States and, to date, no agency has issued a strong warning about its safety.

What Johnson & Johnson Knew and When It Knew It

In the past, including in a lawsuit brought by a woman with mesothelioma in the late 1990s, Johnson & Johnson claimed that its baby powder was asbestos-free. However, the results of a Reuters investigation released in December 2018 found that Johnson & Johnson knew otherwise.

Specifically, the Reuters investigation found that from 1971 through the early 2000s:

  • The talc used in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and the finished baby powder itself sometimes contained small amounts of asbestos
  • Johnson & Johnson executives and others including scientists and lawyers knew about the test results
  • Johnson & Johnson executives and others including scientists and lawyers worried about how to handle the asbestos problem without disclosing the information to federal regulators or the public
  • Johnson & Johnson successfully attempted to influence scientific research about the potential health concerns associated with talc and U.S. regulators efforts to limit talc in cosmetics

Johnson & Johnson maintains that it never hid any evidence regarding the safety of its talcum-based products and the Reuters report is “false and misleading.”

You Can Take Action If You’ve Developed Cancer From Talcum Powder

Despite the lack of official warning about the dangers of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder, it is possible to pursue a legal recovery if you’ve developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after regularly using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.

Thousands of other people have already filed baby powder cancer lawsuits, and a few of these cases have already been heard in court and decided. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits are claiming that they have developed cancer or their loved ones have died from cancer because they used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder. They further allege that they were not warned about this potential risk before they used the product.

It can be challenging to go up against a big company like Johnson & Johnson on your own, but you don’t have to do this by yourself. You can join with other people who have suffered similar injuries to pursue a mass tort action. Our mass tort lawyers would be happy to meet with you, free of charge, to discuss whether you may have a claim against Johnson & Johnson and how a mass tort case works. Please contact us today to learn more about your rights and your possible recovery.

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If you have been injured by dangerous drugs you need to speak with an experienced mass torts lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer