May 5, 2017 — The 5th trial accusing Johnson & Johnson of downplaying the risk of ovarian cancer from talcum powder has ended in a $110.5 million verdict from a jury in St. Louis, Missouri.
The lawsuit was filed by Louis Slemp, a 62 year-old woman from Virginia who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2012 after 40 years of sprinkling Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower on her genital area. She was too ill to attend the trial because her cancer recently spread to her liver.
The jury found Johnson & Johnson to be 99% responsible for her injuries. The company’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, was found 1% responsible and ordered to pay her approximately $100,000.
Imerys Talc America added warning labels about the possible risk of cancer from its talcum powder products in 2006. Those warnings were not added to any products Johnson & Johnson made with the talc.
Three trials in St. Louis last year ended in juries awarding verdicts of $72 million, $55 million, and $70 million to three women with ovarian cancer who used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for decades.
The company broke its losing streak in March, when a jury in St. Louis decided not to award compensation to Nora Daniels, a 56 year-old woman who developed ovarian cancer after using talc for 30 years.
Lawsuits have been filed by over 2,000 other women with ovarian cancer. They accuse Johnson & Johnson of failing to warn about the risk, despite evidence dating back to the 1960s and recent studies estimating a 20-30% increased risk of cancer.
The first study linking talc and ovarian cancer was published in 1971. Doctors found particles of talc in ovarian tissue samples from women who died of cancer, proving that talc particles are absorbed by the female reproductive system and accumulate in the ovaries.
Before 1976, talcum powder was commonly contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. Asbestos is now banned in talcum powder, but studies continue to find higher rates of cancer among women who sprinkle talcum powder on their genitals for many years.
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