J&J talcum pow­der can cause ovar­ian can­cer; brand loses third trial in Cal­i­for­nia and asked to pay $70 mil­lion to com­plainant

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In the United States, John­son & John­son has lost a third straight trial while de­fend­ing a claim that its talcum pow­der can cause ovar­ian can­cer. De­cid­ing against ev­i­dences, ar­gu­ments and jus­ti­fi­ca­tions given by the com­pany’s lawyers, a St Louis jury awarded a Cal­i­for­nia woman who had sued the com­pany more than $70 mil­lion.

In In­dia, J&J talcum pow­der, es­pe­cially its baby pow­der, is a most pre­ferred and the high­est sold com­mod­ity in its cat­e­gory. On the other hand, in the United States the com­pany is an ac­cused in about 1,700 law­suits in state and fed­eral court for ig­nor­ing stud­ies link­ing its baby pow­der and Shower-to-Shower talc prod­ucts to ovar­ian can­cer. The com­pany is also fac­ing law­suits for fail­ing to warn cus­tomers about the risk. The May 2017 ver­dict fol­lows dam­ages ver­dicts of $72 mil­lion and $55 mil­lion against the com­pany this year in the first two ‘harm­ful ef­fects of talc claims’ to go to trial in St Louis. Both are be­ing ap­pealed.

News pub­lished in all in­ter­na­tional medi­ums, in­clud­ing Daily Mail and Chicago Times, state that Deb­o­rah Gian­nec­chini, 62, used J&J's baby pow­der for fem­i­nine hy­giene for more than four decades un­til her di­ag­no­sis with ovar­ian can­cer three years ago. She has an 80 per cent chance of dy­ing in the next two years, and has al­ready un­der­gone surgery, ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy.

A J&J unit was or­dered to pay $65 mil­lion in puni­tive dam­ages and 90 per cent of about $2.5 mil­lion for med­i­cal costs and pain and suf­fer­ing. Co-de­fen­dant Imerys Talc Amer­ica, the sup­plier of the talc, was hit with $2.5 mil­lion in puni­tive dam­ages. Jurors re­turned the ver­dict af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing for about three hours.

The com­pany should have pro­vided a warn­ing la­bel on the prod­uct to let con­sumers de­cide whether to use the talc, one ju­ror, Bil­lie Ray of St Louis, said af­ter the trial. “It seemed like John­son & John­son didn’t pay at­ten­tion. It seemed like they didn’t care,” she had said in a for­mal me­dia state­ment.

The com­pany, how­ever, is stick­ing to its claim and its spokesper­son has stated that J&J will ap­peal in courts of higher or­der.

“This ver­dict serves to un­der­mine ef­forts by the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity to de­ter­mine the true causes of ovar­ian can­cer; the the­o­ries re­lied upon by plain­tiffs’ ex­perts lacked sci­en­tific foun­da­tion,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous me­dia re­ports, John­son & John­son is fac­ing hun­dreds of claims in St Louis state court as well as about 300 suits in Los An­ge­les and another 200 in New Jer­sey. As per a Bloomberg re­port, over­all the com­pany has paid $5 bil­lion in judge­ments, set­tle­ments or fines re­lated to its drugs and med­i­cal de­vices since 2013.

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