Eva Echeverria used the company’s baby powder on a daily basis for more than 50 years and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.
THE makers of Johnson’s baby powder have been ordered to pay $417m (£323m) to a woman who claims she developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-based products for feminine hygiene.
A jury in California awarded the sum to Eva Echeverria, which is the largest yet in a series of lawsuits against pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J).
Echeverria, 63, alleged J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about talcum powder’s potential cancer risks.
She used the company’s baby powder on a daily basis for more than 50 years, beginning in the 1950s until 2016, and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to court papers.
Echeverria, from California, developed ovarian cancer as a “proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder”, she said in her lawsuit.
Echeverria’s lawyer, Mark Robinson, said Eva is undergoing cancer treatment in hospital and hoped the verdict would lead J&J to put additional warnings on its products.
He argued J&J encouraged women to use its products despite knowing of studies linking ovarian cancer to genital talc use.
“Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,” Robinson said.
“She really didn’t want sympathy.
“She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women.”
The verdict included $68m (£52m) in compensation and $340m (£264m) in punitive damages, according to AP.
Evidence shown in the case included internal documents from several decades that “showed the jury that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer”, according to Robinson.
TALC TALK What is talcum powder made of, what is the Johnson & Johnson cancer lawsuit and what is baby powder used for – here’s everything you need to know
“Johnson & Johnson had many warning bells over a 30 year period but failed to warn the women who were buying its product,” he said.
Carol Goodrich, a J&J spokeswoman, said in a statement that the company will appeal the jury’s decision.
She added that the company sympathises with women suffering from ovarian cancer but that scientific evidence suggests Johnson’s baby powder is safe to use.
The verdict came after a St. Louis, Missouri jury in May awarded $110.5m (£85m) to a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
She also blamed her illness on her use of J&J’s talc-based products for more than 40 years.
Three other trials in St. Louis had similar outcomes last year with juries awarding damages of $72m (£56m), $70.1m (£54m) and $55m (42m).
In March a St. Louis jury rejected the claims of a Tennessee woman with ovarian and uterine cancer who blamed talcum powder for her disease.
Two similar cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge based on a lack of reliable evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer.
More than 1,000 people have filed similar lawsuits against J&J This should concern you.
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