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A St. Louis jury has determined that pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) should pay a total of $72 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the family of Jackie Fox, a woman who passed away in 2015 due to complications related to her ovarian cancer. After only four hours of deliberating, the jury decided that the plaintiff’s argument – that her ovarian cancer was caused by years of use of J&J’s talcum powder – was valid. Furthermore, they concluded that J&J had ample reason to believe that their talcum powder products, which had been marketed as safe for use in a woman’s genital area and as part of her “daily routine”, were dangerous. However, the industry giant made no move to put a warning label on the packaging.

Johnson & Johnson has remained insistent since before the trial began that their talcum-based baby powders and shower hygiene products are safe. It contends that the jury came to their conclusion based on their own discretion, not on any scientific evidence that was presented in the case. One of the legal representatives to J&J stated that it was clear that the cause of the woman’s cancer was not known at the time of her death. The judge approved the amount of the verdict, but J&J will likely appeal the award.

Interestingly, this is not the first time J&J found itself in a courtroom due to the apparent dangers of its talcum powder products. Three years ago, a North Dakota federal jury believed that the products had indeed caused one woman’s nonfatal ovarian cancer. The jury in the North Dakota case did not award any damages or compensation to the plaintiff, but perhaps the press associated with this case highlighted the potential link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder use to pave the way for the thousands of pending cases.

A version of this article originally appeared at The Whitley Law Firm blog.


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