$55M Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder Award

In the latest talcum powder lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a St. Louis, MO, jury to pay $55M to Gloria Ristesund.  The plaintiff believes her ovarian cancer is the result of years of talcum powder use. The award designated $5M in compensatory damages and $50M in punitive damages.  Earlier this year gynecology expert witness Daniel Cramer, MD, ScD, testified in the Johnson & Johnson trial regarding the link between talc powder and ovarian cancer in the death of Jackie Fox. Her family was awarded $72M after finding Johnson & Johnson guilty of failing to warn the public and keeping information about the possible link between their product and ovarian cancer from the public.

The International Agency For Research On Cancer writes:

Perineal exposure to cosmetic talc in women is of concern because of its possible association with ovarian cancer. Several studies have been conducted in women to assess potential retrograde movement of particles through the reproductive tract to the ovaries….On balance, the Working Group believed that the evidence for retrograde transport of talc to the ovaries in normal women is weak. In women with impaired clearance function, some evidence of retrograde transport was found.

Cancer.org explains: Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes. It is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders, as well as in a number of other consumer products….

One study suggested genital talcum powder use may slightly increase the risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer in women who are past menopause. But other studies have not found such a link. Further studies are needed to explore this topic….

Based on limited evidence from human studies of a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

There is more litigation over talcum powder side effects on the horizon for the world’s sixth-largest consumer health company. Over 1,100 women have reportedly sued J&J to date. Oncology expert witnesses as well as gynecology experts will be called upon to consult and testify in cases such as these. Oncology cases are complex and require a thorough analysis by an experienced board certified expert from a top university medical center. These medical professionals are an invaluable resource in evaluating whether consumer products are possibly carcinogenic to humans.

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