E-mails unsealed by a Mississippi Judge show Johnson & Johnson’s behind-the-scenes attempted influence over a report relied upon by the FDA regarding the risk to the public from Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.
Beginning in 1983, public health advocates and consumers pushed the FDA to require warnings on talc-based products. In 1994 and 2008, Samuel Epstein, an environmental health professor and head of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, filed citizen petitions demanding the FDA require warnings that “frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area substantially increases the risk of ovarian cancer.”
In 2009 consumer groups renewed the call for cancer warnings to be added to talc products. In response, Johnson & Johnson selected specific scientists favorable to its position to author a report and was to pay these “external experts to provide scientific arguments against the petition with the recommendation of rejecting it.”
The e-mails suggest that Johnson & Johnson went even further. While acknowledging that the talc companies would provide “much of the work behind the scenes,” Johnson & Johnson suggested revisions to the final report and also that the report not be submitted under the scientists’ actual names so the company could “indirectly provide comments to the FDA.” The e-mails suggest there may even have been a direct meeting between Johnson & Johnson and an FDA manager overseeing cosmetic products at the time.
The e-mails between Johnson & Johnson executives and Rio Tinto Minerals, their then talc supplier, show how far the companies went in attempting to influence the FDA’s decision. The final report submitted to the FDA made no mention of Johnson & Johnson and suggested it was an objective state-of-the-art evaluation of talc safety.
Johnson & Johnson has denied any such meeting took place and denied any wrongdoing regarding the report.
The talcum powder litigation includes almost 39,000 women and their families claiming Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower caused or contributed to their development of ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson has denied these claims and recently began proceedings in bankruptcy court hoping to limit its liability.
If you or a female loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or primary peritoneal cancer, reach out to Cellino Law for help. Our attorneys have experience fighting on behalf of our talcum powder clients and their families. Our team is here to answer your questions 24/7, call us today.