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Johnson & Johnson Pays Out $417 Million In Baby Powder Case

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Johnson & Johnson has lost yet another legal battle over its talcum powder. A jury awarded a woman in California $417 million on the claim that she developed ovarian cancer because of her prolonged use of the company’s baby powder. This marks the biggest payout Johnson & Johnson has had to shell out in a string of cases involving the same product.

Eva Echeverria, 63, said that she had been using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder as a part of her feminine hygiene routine since she was 11 years old. She only stopped using it in 2016 when she read that a woman had developed ovarian cancer because of the talc, CNN reports. She added that had there been a warning label on the powder, she would not have continued using it.

Technically, the company has no legal obligation to put such warnings on their baby powder, as it is considered a cosmetic and therefore does not have to undergo an FDA review. However, the ingredients must still be clearly seen on the product and it must be “safe for use by consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use,” according to the FDA.

Some talcum powder companies do put labels that say there is a possible risk of ovarian cancer if the product is frequently applied to the genital area.

There has been no conclusive research on the effects of talcum powder when it comes to ovarian cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer says that using talcum body powder is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The American Cancer Society says that the US National Toxicology Program has not yet fully reviewed or classified talc as a carcinogen.

Johnson & Johnson released a statement saying they would appeal the case. Carol Goodrich, a representative for the company, said, “Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease.”

She further explained, “We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder. 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 US and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”


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