An article in Chemist World titled “J&J and the question of shadow research” discusses how we should evaluate the ethics of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) hiding payment for talcum powder ovarian cancer research.
We now know that J&J paid for baby powder cancer research from cross-examination during an ovarian cancer baby powder trial. During deposition of J&J’s chief medical officer Joanne Waldstreicher, internal emails noted payments for a 2008 research paper that found no increased risk of ovarian cancer from using talc. The costs of the study were funded by J&J and a talc mining company.
The paper did not disclose the funding source, instead it listed the funding as coming from the law firm Johnson and Johnson used to defend them in a talcum powder lawsuit.
From Chemistry World, here are quotes of other researchers regarding the ethics of paying for but hiding the payments for talcum powder ovarian cancer research:
Marion Nestle, professor emerita of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University:
“This is a flagrant breach of medical and research ethics.”’
‘Drug industry funding is almost invariably associated with research results that favour the sponsor’s interests”
“If the money for the study came from a drug company and was funded by the law firm that represented that company, then it was laundered.”
Robert Proctor, science historian at Stanford University:
“Big tobacco pioneered this strategy decades ago, and they were able to pollute the scientific literature and make it seem like there was an honest controversy about whether cigarettes were causing health problems like lung cancer.”
To read more about talcum powder lawsuits and the link between talc and ovarian cancer (including talc containing baby powder), please visit our page on talcum powder ovarian cancer.