Health

Johnson & Johnson To Pay $72M In Cancer Lawsuit

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Spilled Talcum PowderSpilled Talcum Powder

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $72 million by a St. Louis, Missouri, jury to the family of Jackie Fox for their claim that the company’s talcum powder products caused her fatal ovarian cancer. Fox was one of nearly 60 people who sued the health care product manufacturer in a civil suit, but the company now faces hundreds of related lawsuits, AL.com reported.

Fox used Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years, but she died at the age of 62 in October 2015, before a verdict could be rendered. Of the awarded $72 million, $10 million was devoted to damages and the remaining money was considered punitive, The Associated Press reported.

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Johnson & Johnson is facing approximately 1,200 lawsuits for its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower product because it was linked to ovarian cancer and the plaintiffs contend the company failed to warn consumers, although it knew of the risk, Bloomberg reported. 

“We were able to prove statistically that 1,500 women have died every year from the association of talc and ovarian cancer,” said Jere Beasley, principal and founder of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Beasley Allen Law Firm. He also claimed the company knew of the link between talc products and ovarian cancer as far back as the 1980s.

 "They are basically self-regulated and they know they can really just about get away with anything."

"The corporate conduct we have seen over the past five years getting ready for this trial is just about as bad as I have seen in any area that I have practiced in," he said.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich disagreed with the verdict, saying it “goes against decades of sound science proving the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient in multiple products.” The separate statement from Goodrich added that the company has “no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers.”

In 2012, Johnson & Johnson agreed to remove 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, both of which are considered probable carcinogens, from its products by 2015. 

Sources: AL.com, AP via The Guardian, Bloomberg / Photo credit: Austin Kirk/Flickr