Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Talc-Cancer Lawsuits Take A Dangerous Turn

EnlargeSimon Dawson  Bloomberg via Getty Images

Noting that studies involving the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer have had mixed results, the American Cancer Society suggests that until more information is available, people concerned about using talcum powder may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.

The company faces ~4,800 lawsuits claiming the use of its baby powder led to ovarian cancer. The $417-million verdict on Monday is the third-largest jury award in the U.S. so far in 2017.

The verdict included $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages, a spokeswoman for Echeverria's lawyers said.

The plaintiff in the Los Angeles case, 62-year-old Eva Echeverria, told the jury that had Johnson & Johnson placed a similar warning on its baby powder, she would not have used it.

The jury found the parent company and its consumer-products unit liable on Monday for failing to warn a woman over the alleged risk of the baby powder. J&J is appealing the verdicts and in Ju ne succeeded in halting a trial in St Louis after the US Supreme Court made it more hard for out-of-state plaintiffs to join lawsuits in state courts that are deemed favourable to their claims. Some studies have found a small to moderate increase in cancer risk, but these studies tend to rely on women self-reporting.

The Echeverria case was the first California talc case to go to trial, and the jury's massive figure will set a new standard for the many talc cases to come. Currently, the baby product manufacturer is facing over 4,000 similar lawsuits, according to Reuters. The Firm is offering free legal reviews to women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer that may be associated with Johnson & Johnson's talc-based powders. And a spokesman for the firm defended its product, the name of that spokesman is Carol Goodrich and he said: "We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science".

Yes, it's a tenuous link but the US Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC) warns there is enough evidence to show there is an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women exposed to asbestos. Asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent, naturally forms in talcum powder.

To get around the hindsight bias, researchers could track a group of healthy women over a number of years to find out if those that used talcum powder were more likely to develop ovarian cancer.

The lawsuit suspected that the company has the knowledge of the risk of the cancer due to the use of talcum powder but the company obscured this from the public.


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