The most recent talc verdicts have demonstrated some traction in defeating claims based on certain go-to defense strategies, including personal jurisdiction dismissals, the use of expert testimony and Daubert motions discrediting scientific causation, and even requests to jurors to use their “common sense” in evaluating scientific evidence. However, there is another tool that defense attorneys should consider in talc cases: federal preemption.
Part of the mass appeal of talc cases lies in the prevalence of talc-based products in the marketplace, due to the numerous uses for talc in a variety of consumer products across cosmetics, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and even foods. As talc litigation expands into products that may be regulated as OTC drugs, defense counsel should consider the options that they might have in invoking federal preemption as a defense strategy. While the defense remains untested, there is a sound basis for its application. This article will discuss the federal U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory scheme that is applicable to talc-based products and when federal preemption may support an argument for defeating conflicting state law claims against talc-containing OTC drugs.