A woman has been awarded more than $70 million in damages after claiming that using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused her cancer.
Sky News reports that Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. She accused the pharmaceutical company of “negligent conduct” in the making and marketing of its talcum powder, which raised concerns over the health impact of the product.
“We are pleased the jury did the right thing,” Jim Onder, the woman’s lawyer, said in a statement following the St. Louis jury’s ruling. “They once again reaffirmed the need for Johnson & Johnson to warn the public of the ovarian cancer risk associated with its product.”
However, according to CBS News, a Johnson and Johnson lawyer stressed there is no scientific evidence linking talcum powder with cancer, and he asked the jury to not listen to “that dark side of your heart that thinks everybody’s a conspirator.”
A spokesperson for the brand echoed this view in her statement.
“We deeply sympathise with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer,” Carol Goodrich said. “We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
This is the latest trial the multinational has lost in a row over the health risks associated with extended use of its popular product.
Earlier this year, a jury in Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay almost £60million in damages to the family of a woman who said her ovarian cancer was linked to their talcum powder. This was the first verdict that ordered the company to pay out, but according to Reuters, there have been hundreds of similar lawsuits about the supposed connection.
Not every claimant has been successful, though. The Independent reports two other cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said there wasn’t reliable evidence that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer.
Researchers and major health organisations say talc, which is a mineral that is widely used in cosmetics to absorb moisture, is harmless and Johnson & Johnson insists it’s perfectly safe.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies use of talc for feminine hygiene as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” while the National Toxicology Program has not fully reviewed it as a possible carcinogen.
The court ruling comes after a dispute over possible carcinogenic ingredients found in Johnson & Johnson’s products in 2012. The company pledged to remove 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde from its range by 2015.