Defective products result in thousands of serious injuries and fatalities every year, and 2020 was no exception. Here are some of the products that posed severe dangers to people.
Cosmetics Containing Talc
Talc has been used in cosmetics for centuries. Lawsuits involving talc body powders have, however, raised safety concerns. Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, in particular, has faced intense scrutiny. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found traces of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in the bottle it tested.
Billions have been awarded to users who claimed Johnson & Johnson’s defective products led to cancer. As of May 2020, the company was facing over 17,000 federal lawsuits and several thousand more suits in state courts. The lawsuits alleged that the company’s talc-based products cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, and the company failed to warn the public.
Takata airbags led to the recall of millions of vehicles by 19 different car manufacturers. Some of the airbags deployed explosively and injured or killed car occupants. By the end of September, Honda had confirmed 15 deaths and over 200 injuries in the United States related to ruptured Takata airbag’s driver inflators. In November, GM announced that it was planning to recall 5.9 million SUVs and trucks with the potentially dangerous airbag inflators.
Defective Medical Devices and Drugs
Some of the defective medications and medical devices that posed dangers to consumers in 2020 include:
- Zantac: Unacceptable amounts of the carcinogen NDMA were found in Zantac. On April 1, 2020, the FDA asked manufacturers to immediately withdraw all over-the-counter and prescription Zantac products from the market. People filed lawsuits against Pfizer and Sanofi, the drug’s marketers and manufacturers. The lawsuit claims the drug makers knew the NDMA in the product increased cancer risk but did not warn the public.
- BD Alaris Systems: These infusion pumps monitor vital signs in patients and deliver blood, fluids, and medications in controlled amounts. The FDA recalled several models of the systems and classified them as class one recalls, which means the devices can lead to serious injuries and death.
- Diabetes devices: From the start of 2019 to July 2020, there were 66,000 injuries and roughly 400 deaths linked to diabetes devices like glucose monitors, test strips, infusion sets, and insulin pumps.
Injuries from defective toys send thousands of children to emergency rooms every year. Some toys have even put children at risk of death. Accessories of the Calico Critters set were suspected of having caused a child’s death in New Mexico. W.A.T.C.H., a toy safety watchdog group, ranked the set among 2020’s worst toys.
Inclined sleepers were found to carry a high risk of infant death by suffocation. By February 2020, inclined sleepers were believed to have caused at least 73 deaths. In a press release issued in October 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urged parents and caregivers to avoid using infant inclined sleepers.
Injuries and deaths from the use of defective products result in numerous losses, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, recovery care, lost income, and loss of companionship. The manufacturers, retailers, or distributors can be held liable for the defects.