J&J to pay over $55m as compensation
The New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson, has been ordered to pay over $55 million to a 62-year-old American-woman Gloria Ristesund as compensation. Ristesund blamed J&J talcum powder for her ovarian cancer and filed a case with a US court against J&J. A Missouri state court, after a three-week trial, awarded Ristesund $50 million in punitive damages and $5 million in compensatory damages.
Johnson & Johnson, a US-based pharmaceutical firm, was founded by Robert Wood Johnson-I, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson in 1886. The Fortune 500 Company's products include medications, first-aid supplies, baby products, and beauty and personal care products.
Gloria Ristesund, a 62-year-old American-woman, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011; she had to undergo a hysterectomy and several other surgeries. According to Ristesund, she had used Johnson and Johnson's talcum-based powders for decades on her genitals, which caused cancer. However, J&J had claimed that their products were safe. Some researchers also stated that J&J's talcum powders' links with ovarian cancer weren't proven.
In another similar case, 62-year-old Jackie Fox from Alabama died of ovarian cancer in 2015; she had used J&J's Baby Powder Talcum for over decades. Following her death, Fox's family sued J&J for their cancer-causing talcum powders. In Feb'16, a St. Louis court found J&J guilty of selling carcinogenic products and ordered the company to pay $72 million as damages to Fox's family.
A court heard Ristesund's case regarding J&J's carcinogenic talcum powders. Allen Smith of 'Talc Litigation Group' told the jury that J&J knew about their carcinogenic products for over 40 years but, never warned women about it. He added that he would provide evidence to prove that repetitive usage of J&J powders causes cancer. The lawsuit was consolidated in Circuit Court, St. Loius in 2014.
The jury of a Missouri court heard the closing arguments on 29 Apr'16 following a three-week court trial over Ristesund's claims that J&J's baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.
J&J is likely to appeal the court's ruling. J&J spokeswoman Carol Goodrich stated, "Unfortunately, the jury's decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc."
J&J's products including baby powder have been blamed for causing ovarian cancer; over 1200 cases were filed over the years about J&J products' cancer risks. There have been several concerns whether using talcum, especially on genitals, could increase the risk of ovarian cancer. International Agency for Research of Cancer does classify talcum as 'possibly' carcinogenic when used on genitals. But, there's no conclusive evidence.
In its natural form, the mineral talc contains asbestos, which causes cancer. Since the 1970s, asbestos-free talcum is being used in cosmetics and baby products to minimize the risk of cancer. However, many studies show contradictory results.