J&J to pay $148m to woman who ‘got cancer’ from baby powder

COSMETICS company Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay US$110 million (AU$148 million) to a woman who says she developed ovarian cancer after 40 years of using of its talc- based products for feminine hygiene.

Lois Slemp, who lives in the US state of Virginia, is undergoing chemotherapy after her ovarian cancer, initially diagnosed in 2012, returned and spread to her liver.

Ms Slemp said she developed cancer after four decades of daily use of talc-containing products produced by J & J, specifically the well-known Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder.

Thursday's verdict in Missouri awarded $US5.4 million in compensatory damages and said J & J was 99 per cent at fault, while talc supplier Imerys was one per cent to blame.

But it awarded massive punitive damages of $US105 million against J & J and a $US50,000 against Imerys.

There have been thousands of lawsuits filed against the company, the world's largest health care group, for allegedly ignoring studies that linked its baby powder and Shower to Shower product to ovarian cancer.

J & J failed to warn customers about the risk, lawyers claim.

Late last year, a jury awarded California woman Deborah Giannecchini US$70 million (AU$94 million) in damages for her suit against J & J.

She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after years of using baby powder.

And in early 2016, Jacqueline Fox's family was awarded US$72 million (AU$97 million) in damages after a jury found her use of talcum powder contributed to her widespread cancer.

Ms Fox died in October 2015. Her son Marvin Salter said the company should've warned its customers.

"It has to be safe. It's put on babies. It's been around forever. Why haven't we heard about any ill effects?

"People were using something they thought was perfectly safe. And it isn't. At least give people the choice. J & J didn't give people a choice."

Following today's latest outcome, J & J said in a statement it sympathised with women impacted by ovarian cancer but planned to appeal.

"We are preparing for additional trials this year and we continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder," J & J said.

The verdict was the largest so far out of about 2400 lawsuits accusing the healthcare company of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of talc-based products including Johnson's Baby Powder.

Many of those lawsuits are pending in the state court in St. Louis, where the company has faced four prior trials, three of which resulted in verdicts awarding plaintiffs $US195 million in total.

News Corp Australia

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