Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was ordered on Monday by a Los Angeles jury to pay a record of $417 million to a woman who complained before a court case that she developed ovarian cancer after using the talc in the company's baby power for feminine hygiene. In fact, the company has been facing thousands of such suits, that too for a long time.
She said that if Johnson & Johnson had put a warning label on the product showing a linkage between talc and cancer, she would not have used it for so many years. "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 USA and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder".
The evidence around any link between talc use and cancer is inconclusive. Since inflammation increases the risk of cancer, it's possible that talc causes cancer.
Legal experts say the recent $417M awarded to a woman in a California district court against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -1%) suggests forum-shopping, meaning plaintiffs seek to file cases in favorable jurisdictions.
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen.
The case was the first state trial outside of Missouri, Bloomberg reported. "We are preparing for additional trials in the USA and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder".
The vast majority of those lawsuits are still pending, but juries in Missouri previously awarded tens of millions of dollars to three plaintiffs. We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder.
She had blamed her illness on her use of the company's talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years. J&J, which faces 5,500 claims in U.S. courts, has lost four previous jury verdicts in St Louis for a total of $300 million. The largest (for $500 million) was ZeniMax's February win against Facebook over its virtual reality headset.