A Missouri jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $100 million to a Virginian woman who claims she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using talcum powder products for feminine hygiene.
The verdict marks the largest to arise out of the roughly 2,400 lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson in connection with the company’s talc-based products so far. The lawsuits state J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about cancer risks associated with talcum powder products, including their Johnson’s Baby Powder.
According to Reuters, three previous verdicts resulted in $197 million in verdicts being levied against Johnson & Johnson and a talcum powder supplier. The plaintiff in Thursday’s case, Lois Slemp, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 – her cancer has since spread to her liver.
In the verdict, the jury awarded Slemp $5.4 million in compensatory damages saying Johnson & Johnson was 99 percent at fault for Slemp’s cancer. The jury also awarded punitive damages of $105 million against J&J and $50 against talc supplier Imerys Talc.
Talc products were previously recognized as containing asbestos, a known carcinogen; however, even with the removal of asbestos from talc products in 1973, new cases of cancer have persisted.
More alarming is the fact that talc fibers are often found in the cancerous tissue following diagnoses.
So far, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not fully reviewed talc as a possible carcinogen, leaving many consumers with unanswered questions.
Popular talc powder products include: