Johnson & Johnson to Pay $72M in Talcum Powder-Related Cancer Case

According to usatoday.com, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by using the company’s Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene. Jackie Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, joined dozens of women suing the company after her cancer diagnosis. The women claimed that the company failed to inform consumers about the dangers of talc, which is found in baby powder.

A 1997 internal memo from a company medical consultant said, “anybody who denies” the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” However, “talc is hard to directly link to ovarian cancer,” according to Eva Chalas, chief of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of Clinical Cancer Services at Winthrop-University Hospital. “The information on talc powder came out many years ago when they saw talc incorporated in tissue of women with ovarian cancer,” Chalas said. Concerns over talc led many doctors to advise mothers to stop using talcum powder on their babies, and to discontinue use for feminine hygiene. The doctor also stated, “It’s important to note that in the past talcum powder contained talc that contained asbestos, but modern powder does not. Some cancer may have been from potential contamination with asbestos when they made the talcum powder years ago.”

The son of Jackie Fox, Marvin Salter of Jacksonville, Florida, took over the claim after his mother’s death in 2015, two years after her cancer diagnosis. The attorney for Fox said this is the first claim case to result in monetary compensation. A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson said the company stands by the talc used in all “global products” and they are “evaluating” their legal options.

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