Johnson & Johnson took another black eye Monday in its ongoing effort to defend against claims that its flagship baby powder product is carcinogenic.
The company now faces thousands more claims from women who say years of using baby powder as a feminine hygiene product contributed to their ovarian cancer.
Latest verdict is biggest yet in continuing legal saga
A jury has now awarded a California woman a whopping $417 million in the case she brought against Johnson & Johnson, according to Reuters.
Eva Echeverria, 63, says she developed terminal ovarian cancer after decades of daily use of Johnson’s Baby Powder, which contains talc.
Her lawyers further alleged that the company pitched its product to women despite knowing about research linking ovarian cancer to genital talc use.
Echeverria’s verdict includes $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.
This is far from the first time a jury has sided with the plaintiff in a case where a woman claims using baby powder on their genitals played a key role in the growth of cancer.
In October 2016, Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, was awarded $70 million for the same claim.
Then in May 2017, Lois Slemp, of Wise, Virginia, received a judgment of more than $110 million in this continuing legal battle.
And prior to both of those cases, three separate juries in St. Louis awarded some $300 million to plaintiffs with similar claims.
Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, has vowed to appeal the verdict in every single instance where it’s been ruled against — including this latest case in California.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports the company still faces 4,800 related claims across the country. Yet Johnson & Johnson continues to maintain that its product is entirely safe for genital use.
“We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” the company said in a statement.
Science, however, is a bit murkier on this question.
The American Cancer Society notes the evidence is not yet entirely conclusive one way or another.
“Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase,” the ACS says online.
“For any individual woman, if there is an increased risk, the overall increase is likely to very be small. Still, talc is widely used in many products, so it is important to determine if the increased risk is real. Research in this area continues.”
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