$417 million paid out to woman with ovarian cancer because of baby powder link

DCNFGrace Carr, DCNF

A jury ruled Monday that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must pay a woman who with ovarian cancer $417 million for failing to warn consumers of the purported dangers of the product.

Eva Echeverria, a 63-year-old California woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, filed a lawsuit after using the hygiene product for more than 40 years, according to The Wall Street Journal. Her attorneys argued that, while it may not have been the only contributing factor to her cancer growth, it only had to prove it was a “substantial factor.”

“It has been suggested that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary,” the American Cancer Society writes regarding the substance. “Studies that exposed lab animals (rats, mice, and hamsters) to asbestos-free talc in various ways have had mixed results, with some showing tumor formation and others not finding any.”

After a lengthy, four-week trial, which included oncologists, pathologists and several medical specialists summoned by both prosecution and the defense, the jury ruled in Echeverria’s favor.

Out of six total trials, this is the fifth that the pharmaceutical company has lost in relation to allegations over its talcum powder product. In total, J&J is set to pay more than $300 million for the trials, but it plans on appealing the latest decision. The corporation is still faced with at least 4,800 pending claims as of July 2, The WSJ reports.

J&J argues that while it feels very sorry for the people who contracted ovarian cancer, scientific studies support its talcum powder’s safety.

“Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease.  We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” a representative for J&J told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “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 U.S. and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

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