Another group of jurors has decidedly weighed in against Johnson and Johnson in the third talc trial of the year. The health care giant’s talc-containing products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower have been accused of causing ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene. The company has allegedly known for decades but refused to warn the public and instead worked to suppress this information while continuing to market the product to women.
Every time the evidence against Johnson and Johnson has been brought before juries this year, they have slammed the company with millions of dollars in punitive damages. At the first trial in February there was a $72 million dollar verdict against Johnson and Johnson; in May there was a $55 million verdict; and yesterday a $70.075 million verdict.
The Missouri jury found that Johnson and Johnson’s talc-containing products contributed to the development of Plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini’s ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer four years ago at age 59 after more than 40 years of perineal talc use. She has undergone multiple surgeries and chemotherapy and suffered complications from her treatments that have greatly reduced her life expectancy.
“She has literally had her spleen removed, part of her stomach removed, part of her colon removed, all of her ovaries, uterus. She has literally had basically the lower half of her body removed,” Plaintiff’s attorney R. Allen Smith, Jr., said during opening arguments according to Law360. “She said if there would have been a warning on the bottle to not use this on the genital area, she would not have done it and we might not be here.”
The first epidemiological study was in 1982, 34 years ago. An expert at the trial testified that since that time approximately 127,500 women have died as a result of ovarian cancer that could be attributed to perineal talc use, with an estimate 1,500 women dying from talc use in the next year. Recent studies have shown that women using talc daily for feminine hygiene have a 30 to 60 percent increased risk of developing of ovarian cancer.
This time the jury also held Johnson and Johnson talc supplier Imerys liable for $2.5 million in punitive damages. According to Law360 both Johnson and Johnson and Imerys have continued to insist that talc is not linked to cancer, often citing that trusted medical institutions such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found no link between talc and ovarian cancer. However, during this trial Johnson and Johnson revealed that the FDA is still looking into the talc issue.
After the trial in February, the FDA requested information regarding the litigation and Johnson and Johnson, instead of providing the entire body of scientific literature, only provided favorable information. The FDA also still has not been provided with the same internal documents that the juries have seen.
“Yet another jury has heard the evidence outlining a link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and ovarian cancer, and has decided that there is a clear connection,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Ted Meadows, who had been helping to lead the litigation. “When is enough going to be enough? Despite repeated verdicts that hold the company accountable, Johnson & Johnson has refused to remove its talcum powder products from shelves, has refused to warn consumers about the risk, and continues to deny its responsibility. It’s time for this company to come clean and put consumer health ahead of profits.”