Published: Thu, August 24, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

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

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

Despite research that talc-based powders may increase the chance of developing ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson have not placed warnings about this risk on their products.

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". In the current case, the plaintiff was awarded $417 million in damages, which is the largest verdict awarded in the matter thus far.

In Monday's case, the jury awarded Ms. Echeverria $70 million in non-economic damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

She said that if Johnson & Johnson had put a warning label on the product showing a linkage between talc and cancer, she would not have used it for so many years.

A Los Angeles jury has issued a $417-million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, finding the company liable for failing to warn a 63-year-old woman, Eva Echeverria who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer about the risks of using its talcum products.

Johnson & Johnson declined to comment on the verdict, but Carol Goodrich, Johnson & Johnson's spokeswoman, said in a statement that the company will appeal the verdict. The amount the court has ordered Johnson & Johnson for this lawsuit is more than the total of other talc lawsuits, which totaled to $307 million. Earlier versions of talcum powder sometimes contained asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent.

She had blamed her illness on her use of the company's talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years.

Similar lawsuits in hundreds of cases have been filed and are pending.

Harvard University epidemiologist Daniel Cramer has published several studies, beginning in 1982, that found a link between talc exposure and increased ovarian cancer.

The company immediately announced it would seek to overturn Monday's verdict, saying science supports the safety of Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder. First off, there is a form of talc, which is a mineral primarily made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, that's clearly carcinogenic due to asbestos, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). When she found out about the product's potential risks past year, she stopped using it.

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