Eva Echeverria, 63, from East Los Angeles, used the powder as a feminine hygiene product for decades. Too sick to appear in court, she was awarded $70million in compensatory damages and $357million in punitive damages, totaling $417million.
“Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease,” Carol Goodrich, spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement. But, she added, “We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
In Feb 2016 a Missouri jury awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $72 million after her lawyer argued that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder caused her death from ovarian cancer
There are about 4,800 similar claims nationally, including four lawsuits in Missouri where Johnson & Johnson dished out more than $300 million total in damages. The largest payout in those cases was $110 million. The plaintiff in one of those cases, who was awarded $72 million in damages, died before the payout.
The issue of whether talcum powder directly causes ovarian cancer is hotly debated. Talc is a naturally occurring clay mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It is closely associated with asbestos, the two are found in the same places, but stricter quality control has meant that there has been no asbestos in talcum powder products since the 1970s.
According to the National Cancer Institute there is not enough evidence to support a direct relationship between asbestos-free talc and ovarian cancer. The Institute’s stand points to a study by the Women’s Health Initiative in which only 0.7% of the women using talcum powder developed ovarian cancer.
However, The International Agency for Research on Cancer has a different view. The Agency said that talcum powder is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”