Emails recently unsealed in the state of Mississippi’s talc lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson exposed the influence the pharmaceutical giant exerted over a report relied on by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it declined to require cancer warnings on talc-based products (Unsealed Emails Show How J&J Shaped Report on Talc’s Links to Cancer).
The emails indicate that Johnson & Johnson selected the scientists its trade association, the Personal Care Products Council, employed to write a 2009 report on the health risks associated with talc-based baby powder. According to the emails, the scientists were also persuaded by the company to alter their final report, which was utilized by the FDA to make its decision.
The emails shine a light on the backroom corporate shenanigans that cause the FDA to make public safety decisions based on research provided by the very industry it is supposed to be regulating. Although allowing the manufacturers of dangerous products to contribute their own research to FDA submissions is not technically illegal, the emails show the absurd amount of influence Johnson & Johnson was able to exert over even the smallest details of a report intended to protect the American public, including choosing the individual scientists and essentially writing the executive summary.
“This is just another example of industry not being transparent about where the science is coming from,” said University of Maryland professor Peter Doshi, an expert on the drug approval process. “Consumers rely on the FDA to make independent decisions on the benefits and harms of products they use every day. Submitting ghost-written materials subverts that process.”
The FDA has historically ignored its responsibility to regulate the cosmetics industry, allowing personal-care products to be sold before their safety has even been investigated by the agency. “They do not do independent research themselves,” said former FDA Associate Commissioner for Women’s Health Susan Wood. “The vast majority of the data that comes into the FDA is funded by the companies.”
As usual, Johnson & Johnson has denied all wrongdoing, but these emails shine even more light on the questionable ethical behavior that has caused the company to have to respond to tens of thousands of lawsuits across the country. If you have cancer and have been exposed to products containing talc, please call Davis, Bethune & Jones at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.