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Lawyer represents Hoosiers in suit over Johnson & Johnson baby powder

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- A new report suggests Johnson & Johnson knew that its staple baby powder contained asbestos fibers and didn't do anything about the problem. 

Thousands of women have sued Johnson & Johnson, saying they got cancer from the asbestos fibers.

In Indianapolis, the law firm Cohen and Malad represents about 100 women, mostly from Indiana. 

You can find the Johnson & Johnson baby powder in your local stores. It's a powder used often to fight babies' diaper rashes and irritations. 

"That continual use day after day, year after year, dramatically increased the risk of ovarian cancer in our clients," said Greg Laker, the partner at Cohen and Malad who represents the 100 women. 

The report on Friday from Reuters said the asbestos came from an ingredient called talc. It said asbestos wasn't detected in many bottles from the 1970s to the early 2000s, but any exposure can be dangerous. According the Reuters, documents show the company knew about the problem. 

Laker said he represents women from their 40s to their 90s. He's heard their stories for years. He said a handful of his clients have died from ovarian cancer, without any resolution with Johnson & Johnson. 

He said even though the Reuters report does not say there's a risk today, he wouldn't buy the baby powder. He said Johnson & Johnson already has another product with a similar purpose but no talc: Instead it contains corn starch. 

All of Laker's cases remain pending, he said he has hope for a positive outcome in the suits. 

"What I hope happens is that ultimately talc is no longer available to be bought on the shelf of every CVS and Walgreens in town," Laker said. 

Earlier Friday, Johnson & Johnson responded to the Reuters report.

"The Reuters article is one-sided, false and inflammatory. Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe and asbestos-free. Studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease," it starts.

Click here to see the entire statement, which goes into the issues Johnson & Johnson had with the Reuters report. 

Earlier this year in St. Louis, a jury awarded 22 plaintiffs $550 million and hit Johnson & Johnson with more than $4 billion in damages because that jury believed the talc in the powder had caused ovarian cancer. 


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