Saturday, 20 October, 2018


$550M awarded in lawsuit linking cancer, baby powder

Patty Aguilar | 13 July, 2018, 20:55

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson must pay damages of $4.7 billion to a group of women who claim the company's talc products made them develop ovarian cancer, a court has ruled.

Mark Lanier, the Houston-based lawyer for the plaintiffs, presented jurors with internal company documents revealing Johnson & Johnson knew of the asbestos in its products and failed to warn consumers. This was the first trial to argue that talc in baby powder contains cancer-causing asbestos. "That may be a harbinger of things to come and there are many more ovarian cancer cases than asbestos cases tied to the powder".

The jury has yet to decide on punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company was disappointed with yesterday's verdict but would not comment further until the punitive damages are announced. The woman, Deane Berg also said that the company offered her a settlement of $1.3 million that she turned down. He said company knowledge of the asbestos dates back more than 40 years.

One of the plaintiffs, Gail Ingham, 73, of O'Fallon, Missouri, told The Post-Dispatch that she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer in 1985 and underwent chemotherapy treatments, surgeries and drug treatments for a year before being declared cancer free in the early 1990s.

J&J denied any contamination with asbestos or any rigged testing. The women in this case claim to have all used talc based powder for decades to keep their bodies smelling fresh and clean, particularly in their genital area. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from states that include Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas. It said some studies had shown a link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer but more research was needed as "there was no consistent evidence to prove that the more you use talc, the greater your risk of ovarian cancer".

"We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer", he said.

It is highly unlikely the plaintiffs will keep an amount anywhere close to judgment award.

But several other settlements have been affirmed with more cases pending. Mineral traces in the talc aren't proof of asbestos contamination, Mr. Bicks said.

The trial is one of many proceedings CVN has recorded in Missouri, California, and SC state courts as part of its extensive talc litigation coverage.

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