In the largest verdict yet to date, a jury awarded a plaintiff $417 million in punitive and compensatory damages against Johnson & Johnson. Eva Echeverria, the plaintiff, alleged that because of Johnson & Johnson’s failure to adequately warn consumers about health risks from using talcum-based products, she developed ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder is a popular product in many households. Even though it is not necessary to use, consumers continue to purchase it without being fully aware of the potential risks to their health. Baby powder is often used to prevent chafing or irritation, though it can also be used to freshen or dry the skin.
Although talcum powder has been deemed dangerous for many reasons, researchers have suggested that it may also cause ovarian cancer. This can happen when the particles travel through the genitourinary tract and become embedded in the uterine tissue, causing inflammation and eventually, the growth of cancerous cells.
Currently, ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of all cancer deaths in women –it kills more women than any other type of reproductive cancer does. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that every woman in the United States has a 1 in 75 chance of developing ovarian cancer throughout her lifetime. The society also estimates that in 2017, more than 22,000 women will be newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and over 14,000 will lose their lives to the disease.
Although other consumers have sued Johnson & Johnson over similar claims, the manufacturer continues to allege that talcum powder is safe to use and does not cause cancer – yet Johnson & Johnson has had to pay more than $300 million in damages to other consumers who have filed suits against them. And in the case of Ms. Echeverria, the jury also agreed with the science and evidence linking talcum powder to the development of her ovarian cancer.
This recent win may help pave the way for other consumers who have developed ovarian cancer from using talc-based products. A Harvard study found that women who use talcum powder are at nearly twice the risk for developing ovarian cancer as those who do not use the product. When talc is used directly on the genitals or a sanitary pad, the risk can grow up to three-times as high.
Johnson & Johnson’s marketing tactics were also under fire from Ms. Echeverria’s attorneys. They alleged that the company intentionally targets women in marketing ploys in order to wrangle in new customers, regardless of the consequences it could have on their reproductive health. Many companies are accused of employing predatory techniques to acquire larger customer bases, and some intentionally sold dangerous or even previously recalled products in order to make more money.
Thousands of lawsuits are still pending against Johnson & Johnson. The good news for women who became ill from talcum powder is that more and more often, juries are voting in favor of the scientific evidence that links the powder to ovarian cancer. If you are concerned about the effects talc-based powder may have on your health, you can consider discontinuing using it altogether.
Early detection and treatment is key in a positive outcome for ovarian cancer diagnoses. Some symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
To read more about the symptoms of ovarian cancer from the Mayo Clinic, please visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cancer/basics/symptoms/con-20028096. If you suspect that you may be ill, you should consult with a doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about the effects that talc-based powders may have had on your health, please contact our firm.
If you or a loved one became ill after using talcum powder, please contact our Philadelphia products liability lawyers. Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.