A Los Angeles jury on Monday awarded a record $417 million in damages in a talcum powder lawsuit brought by a California woman, alleging that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn their consumers about the risks involving talcum powder use and ovarian cancer.
According to The New York Times, 63-year-old Eva Echeverria developed ovarian cancer after decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder on a daily basis.
The plaintiff's lawyer stated that she began using Baby Powder at age 11, and that use continued after receiving her ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2007. It was only after hearing news reports about another talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson that Echeverria ceased using the product.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Carol Goodrich said the company would appeal the verdict.
"Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease," Goodrich said. "We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder."
The possible links between talcum powder and ovarian cancer stretch back decades. A 1971 study out of Britain found talcum particles deeply embedded in 10 of 13 ovarian tumors. A 1982 study, published in the journal Cancer, found “some support for an association between talc and ovarian cancer.”
Further studies have strengthened the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but Johnson & Johnson continues to defend their product's use and safety.
More than 1,000 women have filed suit against Johnson & Johnson, imploring the company to inform consumers of the risks involving long term Baby Powder use.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system but accounts for only about three percent of all cancers in women.
In 2014, the most recent year that numbers are available, more than 21,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 14,000 women in the United States died from ovarian cancer.