How worried should we be about using talc and baby powder as feminine hygiene products? According to a string of legal cases currently facing Johnson & Johnson, the answer doesn’t appear to be positive.
On Thursday, the healthcare company was ordered by a Missouri jury to pay $110million to a woman from Virginia who developed ovarian cancer after using the talc products for decades.
According to Reuters, the verdict was made after Lois Slem filed a lawsuit against J&J and talc supplier Imerys Talc. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy following an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2012. The cancer has since returned and spread to her liver.
She claimed she developed the cancer following 40 years of using talc-containing products made by J&J, including Johnson’s Baby Power and Shower To Shower Powder.
The jury found J&J 99 per cent at fault, while Imerys was just 1 per cent at fault. It awarded punitive damages of $105million against J&J and $50,000 against Imerys.
Ted Meadows, a lawyer for Slemp and other plaintiffs, said: “Once again we’ve shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America.”
J&J responded by saying that the company sympathised with the fact women’s lives had been impacted by ovarian cancer, but announced that they planned to appeal the convictions.
“We are preparing for additional trials this year and we continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” a statement read.
The verdict was the largest to arise from 2,400 lawsuits currently accusing J&J of failing to properly warn consumers about the cancer risks of its products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder.
J&J has already faced four prior trials at the same court in St Louis. Three of them resulted in $197million verdicts against the company. Many more are still pending hearings.