The hits just keep coming for prominent hygiene company Johnson & Johnson, as they have been instructed to pay out a multimillion sum to a woman who says that using their powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer.
If you’ve been keeping up throughout the last few years, Johnson & Johnson has been at the center of controversy (and multiple lawsuits) due to claims that not only did their products cause victims to develop cancer, but that the company neglected to inform consumers of the cancer risk by putting a warning label on its products. CNN reports that in addition to this lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson is facing hundreds of similar cases in California alone and thousands across the country.
[Earlier this week], a jury awarded a California woman $417 million because she developed ovarian cancer and had used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for decades. The award includes $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.
Eva Echeverria, a 63-year-old from Los Angeles, said she had been using the powder as a regular part of her feminine hygiene routine since she was 11 years old. She stopped using it in 2016, after she read a news story about another woman who used it and had ovarian cancer. Echeverria testified that had there been a warning label on the product, she would have stopped using it.
The unfortunate part for the victims in these cases against Johnson & Johnson is that according to the Food and Drug Administration, “the company has no legal obligation to put such a label on its product. Because talcum powder is legally considered a cosmetic, it does not have to undergo a review by the FDA like a drug would.” However, the FDA further clarifies that “it would [still] have to be properly labeled with ingredients and other information, and the product must be safe for use by consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use.”
Other talcum powder-based products currently feature labels that warn against the risk of ovarian cancer, something that Johnson & Johnson still refuses to do despite the ongoing lawsuits. The company issued a statement following the Echeverria ruling stating their process to appeal the verdict:
“Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease,” Carol Goodrich, a representative for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., 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. 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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