More reports on: Pharmaceuticals

J&J loses third lawsuit over talcum powder link to ovarian cancer

29 October 2016

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) lost its third trial in a row over claims its talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer with a St Louis jury awarding a California woman more than $70 million.

J&J is facing over 1,700 lawsuits in state and federal courts of ignoring studies linking its baby powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products to ovarian cancer and not warning customers about the risk. The verdict comes after the company was ordered to pay $72 million and $55 million this year in the first two talc claims to go to trial in St Louis. Both were under appeal.

Deborah Giannecchini, 62, used J&J's baby powder for feminine hygiene for over four decades until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago, according to her lawyers. She had an 80 per cent chance of dying in the next two years, and had undergone surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, they said.

A J&J unit was hit with $65 million in punitive damages and 90 per cent of about $2.5 million for medical costs and pain and suffering, while co-defendant Imerys Talc America, would pay $2.5 million in punitive damages. The verdict came after deliberations that lasted for about three hours.

"We are pleased the jury did the right thing," said Jim Onder, an attorney for the plaintiff. "They once again reaffirmed the need for Johnson & Johnson to warn the public of the ovarian cancer risk associated with its product."

Carol Goodrich, Johnson & Johnson, spokeswoman said in a statement provided to the St Louis Post-Dispatch: "We deeply sympathise with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer. We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder."

Two other lawsuits in New Jersey were, however, thrown out by a judge who said there was no reliable evidence that talc led to ovarian cancer, an often fatal but relatively rare form of cancer.

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