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06 May 2017

Johnson & Johnson to pay $110mn over talcum cancer-link

A US court has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay over $100 million to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using its talcum powder for decades.

Prosecutors had argued that J&J hadn't adequately warned consumers about cancer risks of its talc-based products.

J&J said it would appeal the verdict. Experts believe the cancer risks through J&J products are unproven.

In context

Does J&J talcum powder cause cancer?

Who is victim?

Victim says J&J powder contaminated with asbestos

62-year-old Lois Slemp of Virginia, Missouri, said she used to use J&J's talc products, including the Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder, for nearly four decades for feminine hygiene.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, which has now spread to her liver. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Slemp also accused J&J's talc of being contaminated with asbestos which the company denied.


J&J faces 2,400 lawsuits over cancer risks from talc-based products

The verdict awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages to Slemp.

Imerys Talc America, the company providing the talc to J&J, was ordered to pay $100,000.

The court verdict is the largest thus far to arise out of around 2,400 lawsuits accusing J&J of not sufficiently warning consumers of the risks of cancer from use of its talc-based products.

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J&J lost three cases worth $197 million over talc-based products.

In February 2016, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer after using J&J's talc-based products. In May and October, 2016, juries ordered two more victims to similarly receive $55 million and $70 million, respectively, from J&J.

J&K responds

J&J says it will appeal $110mn lawsuit verdict

Following the $110 million lawsuit loss, J&J said it sympathises with women suffering from ovarian cancer, but said it would appeal the verdict.

"We are preparing for additional trials this year and we continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder," J&J said.

In March, a jury in Missouri sided with J&J in a lawsuit by a woman from Tennessee making similar allegations.

Studies show no evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer

There is no conclusive evidence that using talcum powder, particularly around the genitals, may increase chances of ovarian cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified talc used on the genitals as "possibly carcinogenic" due to the mixed evidence.

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