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Johnson & Johnson to pay $417m in cancer lawsuit

23 August 2017

However, there are many similar trials going on against the company's talcum power in various U.S. courts.

The case was one of thousands of lawsuits brought nationwide alleging the company failed to warn consumers of the risk of cancer from talc in its products.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said that the science "supports the safety" of the company's products.

It has lost four out of five previous cases tried before juries in Missouri, leading to more than $300m in penalties.

However the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies talc used on the genitals as "possibly carcinogenic" because of the mixed evidence.

The mineral talc in its natural form does contain asbestos and does cause cancer, however, asbestos-free talc has been used in baby powder and other cosmetics since the 1970s.

Echeverria's case, decided by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury, is just the first of hundreds of lawsuits facing Johnson & Johnson's to go to trial in California because of the cancer risk in their baby powder, .

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"J&J needs to see they not only have verdicts against them in St. Louis; they now also have them in Los Angeles", Mark Robinson, Echeverria's lawyer, told Bloomberg.

At trial, lawyers for Echeverria accused the New Jersey-based company of encouraging women to use its talc products despite knowing of years of studies linking ovarian cancer diagnoses and deaths to genital talc use. They added their client is dying, but she wants to help other women that developed the disease after using Johnson & Johnson products for 20 to 30 years.

There have been several cases in the past as well where women have complained that they developed cancer after they used the firm's products to address concerns about vaginal odour and moisture. She pointed to an April finding by a National Cancer Institute board that "the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer".

She says she started using the products at 11-years of age and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.

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.

Most of these studies focused on whether the chance of a woman getting ovarian cancer increased if particles of talcum or baby powder traveled through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary via sanitary napkins, diaphragms, condoms or direct application, American Cancer Society reported.

Ms. Echeverria is not alone, as various other women have sued the consumer goods giant claiming its baby powder caused their cancer.

Johnson & Johnson to pay $417m in cancer lawsuit