We recently wrote about a major jury award against Johnson & Johnson, maker of dozens of medicines and personal care products. In that lawsuit, the company was ordered to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. The suit alleged that her cancer was caused by years of using J&J talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes.
Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson suffered another legal defeat related to talcum products like Baby Powder and "Shower to Shower" powder. In this most recent suit, a jury awarded the plaintiff $55 million based on claims that use of these products caused her ovarian cancer. Thankfully, after a hysterectomy and other surgeries, the woman's cancer is now in remission.
Talc has long been considered safe, and is used in a variety of cosmetics and other products. But when it comes to using powdered talc as a feminine hygiene product (where it is applied to the genitals), some studies have suggested that it can increase risk of ovarian cancer.
Of course, there is a better-known danger associated with talcum powder: asbestos contamination. Talc is mined, and some talc deposits also contain asbestos. Products containing talc are supposed to be asbestos-free, but imported products are sometimes contaminated.
Although just two lawsuits have gone to trial so far, Johnson & Johnson is facing another 1,200 suits over its failure to warn of ovarian cancer risks. Will these two jury verdicts prompt J&J to settle future claims, or will the company continue to fight? Only time will tell.