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More Than $400 Million Awarded in J&J Baby Powder Case

Thursday, August 24, 2017
A California woman has been  awarded $417 million after alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based Baby Powder led to ovarian cancer. The jury award may be the largest yet concerning the product.

Eva Echeverria, 63, from Los Angeles, was too sick to testify during the trial, but she sent a video deposition saying she had used the company’s talc-based powder for decades, even after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to published reports. When she found out about the product’s potential risks last year, she stopped using it.

Echeverria legal team came armed with studies dating back to 1971, when a group of researchers from Wales first saw a correlation between talcum powder and cervical and ovarian tumors.

Johnson & Johnson maintains that the product is safe. CURE made several requests for comment from Johnson and Johnson. The company did not respond.

“We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder,” Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson representative said in a statement after the verdict. “Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease.”

Goodrich cited a recent statement made by the National Cancer Institute. “In April, the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query Editorial Board wrote, 'The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.' We are preparing for additional trials in the US and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder,” she said.

However, other studies about the risks of talcum powder say differently, such as one epidemiologic review conducted by researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center that found, “While mechanistic, pathology, and animal studies do not support evidence for the carcinogenicity of talc on the ovarian epithelium, epidemiological studies have indicated an association with talc use and increased OC [ovarian cancer] risk.”

The study went on to say, “In 2006, a meta-analysis of 21 studies reported an approximately 35 percent increase in risk with genital exposure to talc and an earlier meta-analysis had similar findings.” But the authors did mention that in still other studies, the results were inconclusive.

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