Society

Jury Awards Woman $70 Million In Baby Powder Suit

| by Michael Doherty

A jury awarded a woman $70 million in a lawsuit that alleged that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.

The plaintiff, Deborah Giannecchini, of Modesto, California, said Johnson & Johnson's product, which contained talcum powder, caused her to develop ovarian cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2012, according to CNBC. In her lawsuit, Giannecchini said Johnson & Johnson was "negligent" in its marketing of the product.

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

Around 2,000 women have filed lawsuits related to talcum powder and the risk of ovarian cancer. In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer believed to be related to her use of baby powder, and in May a woman who survived the disease was awarded $55 million in a similar suit.

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Onder has said that Johnson & Johnson's marketing has targeted overweight, black and Hispanic women, who already face a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Two lawsuits in New Jersey were thrown out when a judge said there was not sufficient reliable evidence to indicate that talcum powder use could lead to cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the use of talc, a mineral used in talcum powder, on genitals as "possibly carcinogenic." Johnson & Johnson maintains its product is safe, and spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company intends to appeal the court's verdict in Giannecchini's case.

"We deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer," said Goodrich. "We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder."

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Studies exposing mice to talc have had mixed results, with some finding that the animals developed tumors, and other studies showing they did not, according to the American Cancer Society. The U.S. National Toxicology Program has reportedly not fully reviewed talc's potential as a possible carcinogen.

The American Cancer Society has recommended that people are who are concerned about talc to limit their use of talc-based products until more conclusive information becomes available.

Sources: CNBC, American Cancer Society / Photo credit: Austin Kirk/Flickr

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