Johnson & Johnson Ordered To Pay £323m In Lawsuit Linking Baby Powder To Cancer

The pharmaceutical giant was sued by a woman who says she developed ovarian cancer after using the company's talc-based product.

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A jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417m (£323m) to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using the company's iconic baby powder for feminine hygiene.

The Los Angeles jury's decision is the largest sum awarded yet in a number of lawsuits that claim the pharmaceutical firm did not adequately warn consumers about potential cancer risks from its talc-based products.

According to court papers, California resident Eva Echeverria used the well-known baby powder on a daily basis from the1950s until 2016 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.

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Echeverria's lawyer, Mark Robinson, said his client is undergoing cancer treatment while in hospital and told him she hoped the verdict would lead Johnson & Johnson to put additional warnings on its products.

"She really didn't want sympathy," Robinson said. "She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women."

The jury's award included $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages, Robinson confirmed.

A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson has defended the products' safety and said the company will appeal the jury's decision.

"Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathise with the women and families impacted by this disease," Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement. "We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder."

The verdict came after a Missouri jury awarded $110.5 million in May to a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. Three other trials in the state had similar outcomes last year, with juries awarding damages of more than $300 million.

Since the medical issue hit the courts, ovarian cancer charities in the UK have responded with advice for women. A factsheet published by Ovacome says there is no definitive link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

"We still do not know what really causes ovarian cancer," the charity says. "But it is likely to be a combination of many different inherited and environmental factors, rather than one cause such as talc. It is also important to remember that, out of the millions of women in England and Wales, many of whom use talc, only a very small number will develop ovarian cancer each year. So even if talc does increase the risk slightly, very few women who use talc will ever get ovarian cancer. Also, if someone has ovarian cancer and used talc, it seems unlikely that using talc was the reason they developed the cancer."

Additional reporting from Associated Press. Link to more resources about talcum powder from Consumer Safety.

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