On May 3, 2016, a Missouri jury said the Johnson & Johnson Company must pay a $55 million settlement – $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages – in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims that the company’s talcum powder is to blame for her ovarian cancer. The suit alleges that the company did not warn of the risk of ovarian cancer associate with the use of the talc powder.
Not the First Talcum Powder-Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit
This most recent verdict is not the only talcum powder-ovarian cancer lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson has lost. In February 2016, another Missouri jury ordered the company to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-based products for over 35 years.
In October 2013, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson’s products had a hand in causing a plaintiff’s ovarian cancer, but did not award any damages.
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Johnson & Johnson Fires Back
Representatives from Johnson & Johnson say they will appeal the court’s decision and claim they have the scientific proof to back it up. While the American Cancer Society (ACS) notes that natural talc contains asbestos, a known carcinogen and cause of lung cancer, an investigation of Johnson & Johnson products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found no traces of asbestos in its current products.
However, studies regarding asbestos-free talc have produced mixed results regarding the risk of ovarian cancer. Some studies on animals found that talc caused tumors while other studies did not. Human studies have also shown mixed results.
The Future of Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits
Because ovarian cancer is rare (reports show about 21,000 new cases annually), it is difficult to say that any external factor such as talc caused the cancer to develop, although organizations have spoken about its cancer-causing potential.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, has stated that using talcum-based body powder on the genitals is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Further studies and research must occur before officials can make a definitive ruling. However, for now, the courts seem to be siding with the ovarian cancer victims.
There are approximately 1,200 lawsuits pending against the company and more women are coming forward.
If you are a woman with ovarian cancer and have a history of using talcum powder products in your genital areas, you may have the right to seek compensation. Talk to an attorney at Bressman Law represent if you believe talcum powder caused your ovarian cancer.