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Johnson & Johnson Loses Court Trial Over Talcum Powder and Cancer Case, Pays $55 Million

May 04, 2016 08:56 AM EDT
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The United States of America Jury ordered the multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to a woman who contracted ovarian cancer after she used the company's talc powder products for feminine hygiene on Monday

The 62-year-old woman in South Dakota, Gloria Ristesund, was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after she used J&J's talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years. On Monday, the state court jurors decided to award $5 million in compensation and $50 million in punitive damages to Ristesund.

Ristesund's lawyer Allen Smith told jurors on Friday that his client was unaware about the health risk of talc powder that she was using for four decades.

"Science has been simple and consistent over the last 40 years: There's an increased risk of ovarian cancer from genital use of talc,'' Smith said.

Bloomberg reports that the company lost $72 million verdict to the family of a woman named Jackie Fox who died of the disease.

J&J plans to appeal, however, they lost the second straight trial. Reuters reports that the company is now facing 1,200 lawsuits accusing them of not giving warning to consumers about its talc-based products' cancer risks, and ignoring studies linking its Shower-to-Shower product and Johnson's Baby Powder to ovarian cancer.

The giant company of health-care products denied the link between talc and ovarian cancer, and any need to warn women about the health risk. A J&J spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in an e-mailed statement that the company will appeal to the verdict.

Talcum powder is made from talc. According to Cancer.org, talc is a mineral made up of the elements oxygen, magnesium, and silicon. This mineral is used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult facial powders because it absorbs moisture to keep the skin dry and helps prevent rashes.

About the talcum powder causing cancer issue, the source said that it is important to distinguish if the talcum powder is asbestos-free or contains asbestos. If the talc contains asbestos there is a chance it can cause cancer if it is inhaled.

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