A jury panel in California has ordered the world’s largest health-care company Johnson & Johnson to award $417 million to a 62-year-old woman with ovarian cancer. The ruling by the jury panel of Los Angeles county Superior Court came on Monday after it found the company was liable for failing to warn the woman about the cancer risks of using talcum products, Xinhua news agency reported. In the first such case going to state-court jury in California, Eva Echeverria said she used the Johnson’s Baby Powder from age 11 until 2016, when she saw a news about a woman with ovarian cancer who also used the product.
Echeverria, diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, was too weak to show up in the court after a surgeon removed a softball-sized tumour. She said that if Johnson & Johnson had put a warning label on the product showing a linkage between talc and cancer, she would not have used it for so many years. Moreover, her attorneys stressed that Johnson & Johnson had known long ago about cancer risks of using its talcum products but still marketed the unsafe products without any warning label as some experts advised. The company argued that the plaintiff’s allegations were not supported by scientific evidence and studies conducted by federal agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration.
After two days of closing arguments by lawyers, the jury decided to award Echeverria with $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages. In May, a Missouri jury awarded a Virginia woman $110.5 million for a similar allegation, by then, three other Missouri juries had awarded $197 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims. There are more than 300 similar cases pending in California and about 4,800 in other courts across the US. The company immediately announced it would seek to overturn Monday’s verdict, saying science supports the safety of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well so that is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult facial powders for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes. According to the American Cancer Society, even though many studies have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, researches on this field are continuing since findings have been mixed.