Women should 'avoid using talcum powder between their legs'

Trevor BaileyJul 14, 2018

Johnson & Johnson was ordered Thursday to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company's talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

The $4.69 billion in total damages includes $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages.

United Kingdom-based cancer charity Ovacome has said that there have been concerns for some years that using talcum powder on the genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, but says this has not been proven by research.

"Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies", says their company spokesperson.

After a brief punitive phase Thursday afternoon, jurors deliberated for about 30 minutes before handing down their $4.14 billion punitive award.

The affected women claim that Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been laced with cancer-causing asbestos "for decades".

The jury is considering punitive damages against the company for failing to warn about cancer risk, according to a press release.

However, Mark Lanier, a lawyer for the women suing, said both the agency and the company used flawed testing methods, preventing them from detecting the possible presence of asbestos fibers.

According to a report in The New York Times, Johnson & Johnson said that it is planning to appeal the verdict as it was "disappointed" with the jury's decision.

Johnson & Johnson denied that its talc products cause cancer and that they ever contained asbestos.

The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) had earlier - from 2009 to 2010 - commissioned a study of a variety of talc samples. Six out of the 22 women represented in court have succumbed to ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson is now battling around 9000 talc cases. The company has had previous success in overturning large verdicts in talc cases as well as others alleging harm from its products.

"Women need to know because they're putting it on their babies", Ingham said. The company added that the verdict "which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding".

One juror, Evan Klene, 24, a financial analyst, said the jury tried "to understand the totality of what these women went through". Berg claimed that she turned down a settlement of Dollars 1.3 million from the company and instead wanted it to put warning stickers on their products. If a test showed the presence of asbestos, Johnson & Johnson sent it to a lab the company knew would produce different results, he told the jurors. Several other legal challenges by J&J are pending.

The women in the St Louis trial, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job retraining programme, come from states across the country, including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY. But this one is a really big one.

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