In February, a jury awarded $75 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who allegedly developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for more than 35 years. Fox died at age 52 of ovarian cancer, before the lawsuit was completed. During the lawsuit, her attorneys alleged Johnson & Johnson knew its talcum powder was linked to ovarian cancer but failed to warn consumers about the risks. A jury agreed with Fox’s family, finding Johnson & Johnson liable for conspiracy, failure to warn and negligence.
Among the award were $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson has indicated it will appeal the jury’s decision.
In May, a jury in St. Louis ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to Gloria Ristesund, who blamed her ovarian cancer on years of talcum powder use. That award included $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Reports indicate Johnson & Johnson will appeal this award, as well.
Although Johnson & Johnson has said there is no link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that studies have shown since the 1970s that talcum powder could be linked to ovarian cancer. Further, they alleged, internal documents suggest Johnson & Johnson was aware of the studies but failed to act on them.
Although Johnson & Johnson says the science does not back claims that talcum powder is linked to ovarian cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer isn’t so sure. “Perineal use of talc-based body powder is possibly carcinogenic to humans, the agency concluded in a 2010 report on carcinogenic risks.
While the science might not be clear, women who used talcum powder and developed ovarian cancer are now filing lawsuits, saying they should have been warned about the potential risk.