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Johnson & Johnson to pay US $417m damages in talc case

A woman in the US has been awarded US $417 million in punitive damages and compensation after a jury backed her claim that her terminal ovarian cancer was caused by using Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talc products, such as Baby Powder, for feminine hygiene, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury’s verdict on Monday 21 August 2017 in favour of Californian Eva Echeverria is the largest yet in lawsuits alleging J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.

J&J has said it will appeal the decision.

The pay-out included US $70m in compensatory damages and $347m in punitive damages. 

Eva Echeverria, aged 63, claimed she developed terminal ovarian cancer after decades of using J&J’s products. Her lawyers argued J&J encouraged women to use its products despite knowing of studies linking ovarian cancer to genital talc use.

J &J’s lawyers countered that studies and federal agencies had not found that talc products were carcinogenic. 

Carol Goodrich, spokesperson for J&J said: Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease. We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.

In April, the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Editorial Board wrote, “The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.”

“We are preparing for additional trials in the U.S. and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

According to Reuters, J&J faces 4,800 similar claims nationally and the results of similar court verdicts by juries in Missouri means that it has already been hit with pay outs totalling US $300 million.


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203445

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