Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay the compensation for the damages to the family of Alabama woman who died of cancer and claims that it was due to the company's talcum powder.
On February 26, 2016, Johnson & Johnson was held liable for injuries and deaths due to its talc-products and was ordered by a Missouri state jury to pay $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who claims that she had ovarian cancer due to the use of talc-based products.
Doctors discovered that Jacqueline Fox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer two years prior due to the regular use of talc-based products for approximately 35 years. The daily use of talc from the shower to shower result in her unexpected death but her voice came alive at St. Louis Courtroom. She claims that she has been using Johnson & Johnson talc powder for feminine hygiene, which ultimately leads to her death.
Fox was among 1200 women across the country who was suing Johnson & Johnson failing to discover the danger to the customers.
After the jury knew this fact, they penalized Johnson & Johnson with a verdict for $10 million for compensatory damages including costly medical treatment and other losses along with $62 million for punitive damages for not providing the warning notice about its harmful effect on women's ovaries. The Jury held Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud and negligence.
One Juror, Jereme Kendrick while defending said that,
“They could have put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing. "Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman further added in her statement that,“
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral composed of silicon, hydrogen, magnesium, and oxygen. It is used to absorb moisture in many kinds of cosmetic products, from baby powder to makeup and the talc used in all of the company’s products are carefully selected and are of the highest quality and purity.
Studies based on deaths from talcum
According to the reports, an estimated 20,000 women are diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer, and more than 14,000 have died as a result. The disease strikes about one in 70 women, though studies show that women who use talc-containing products on their genitals have a one in 50 chance of developing the disease. An expert at trial testified at least 45,000 women have died as a result of ovarian cancer that was caused by talcum powder use on the genitals, and an estimated 1,500 women will die within the next year as a result of talc use.
The link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer
In 1997, the company's medical consultant said that
“Anybody who is denying the risk of using hygienic powder and ovarian cancer is denying all evidence to the contrary'' - AP reported
But defending it in a phone interview, the chief of Gynecologist Oncology noted that, “it is hard to link ovarian cancer to talc directly.”
Recent studies in women have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase. Many case-control studies have found a small increase in risk. But these types of studies can be biassed because they often rely on a person's memory of talc use many years earlier.
When talking about whether or not talcum powder may cause cancer, it is essential to distinguish between talc that contains asbestos and talc that is asbestos-free. The medical community generally accepts talcum powder contaminated with asbestos as causing cancer if the dust particles enter the lungs when inhaled. The evidence about asbestos-free talc is less clear. It is not clear if consumer products containing talcum powder increase the risk of developing cancer.
Until more information is available, people concerned about using talcum powder may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it.