Jury orders J&J to pay patient's family $72M in talcum powder-ovarian cancer case
- A St. Louis jury has ordered pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to pay the family of Jackie Fox, an ovarian cancer patient who died from the disease last year, $72 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
- Fox's lawyers contented (as part of a class-action suit which involves nearly 1,200 cases against J&J) that the company knew of an alleged link between talcum-based products such as Johnson's Baby Powder and an increased risk of ovarian cancer—and failed to warn consumers about the risk.
- The reward includes $10 million in compensatory damages and another $62 million in punitive damages. It is the first case in the class-action in which J&J has been ordered to pay a reward to plaintiffs.
As BioPharma Dive has previously reported, what complicates these cases is the fact that there is some conflicting evidence over the potential links between talcum-based products like the baby powder and Shower to Shower and an increased cancer risk.
Some studies have suggested that there is an appreciable link, particularly for Hispanic and African American women. But the FDA has stated that such links aren't yet supported by "conclusive evidence."
Johnson & Johnson, which still uses talc in some products, stuck by its contention that no definitive link exists.
"We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial," said J&J spokesperson Carol Goodrich in a statement to Bloomberg. "We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence."
Jurors, for their part, had a very different outlook. "It was really clear they were hiding something," said jury foreman Carol Goodrich, citing internal J&J documents reviewed by the jurors. "All they had to do was put a warning label on."
J&J has faced several major suits over products such as vaginal mesh and Risperdal.