Published: Thu, August 24, 2017
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

Does Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer? Here's What We Know

Does Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer? Here's What We Know

A jury panel in California has ordered the world's largest health-care company Johnson & Johnson to award $417 million to a 62-year-old woman with ovarian cancer.

The jury ruled nine to three against J and J. They said the pharmaceutical company failed to properly warn consumers that using their baby powder, which contains talcum powder, could increase the risk of cancer.

However, other studies about the risks of talcum powder say differently, such as one epidemiologic review conducted by researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center that found, "While mechanistic, pathology, and animal studies do not support evidence for the carcinogenicity of talc on the ovarian epithelium, epidemiological studies have indicated an association with talc use and increased OC [ovarian cancer] risk".

Echeverria's lawyer, Mark Robinson, said his client is undergoing cancer treatment while hospitalized and told him she hoped the verdict would lead Johnson & Johnson to put additional warnings on its products.

Jurors were also presented with internal Johnson & Johnson documents that suggested the company was aware of this potential link for at least 30 years, but failed to warn consumers in order to protect the profits from its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower franchises.

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Following a number of lawsuits, baby powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson slapped with a gigantic fine of $417 million over a claimed connection with a woman's terminal cause of ovarian cancer. The verdict consists of $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages, according to Reuters.

Moreover, her attorneys stressed that Johnson & Johnson had known long ago about cancer risks of using its talcum products but still marketed the unsafe products without any warning label as some experts advised.

The company faces more than 5,000 lawsuits over its talc products, and has lost 4 other trials in St. Louis totaling more than $300 million. Carol Goodrich, a spokesperson for the company told Allure, "Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease".

The case in California is Eva Echeverria et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al. The manufacturer has expressed its intention to appeal the verdict and support the safety of its products. But as the American Cancer Society notes, those kinds of studies can be biased because they rely on a person's memory of talc use years after the fact.

Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen.

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