Third Woman Sues Johnson & Johnson for Causing Her Cancer
A woman in California was recently awarded $70 million after filing a lawsuit accusing Johnson & Johnson of “negligent conduct,” claiming the company’s baby powder caused her cancer.
Deborah Giannecchini was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, she has only a 20 percent chance of survival over the next two years.
According to her lawyers, Giannecchini used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for feminine hygiene for decades. She is just one of 2,000 people who have filed similar suits arguing that Johnson & Johnson has failed to warn consumers of the risks of talc, the main ingredient in talcum powder.
Talc is made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It helps absorb moisture and reduce friction, which is why many women use it on their thigh and genital areas.
Research is still conflicted regarding the link between baby powder and ovarian cancer. Two lawsuits in St. Louis awarded the plaintiffs a combined $127 million earlier this year, though two other New Jersey lawsuits were thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.
The American Cancer Society says pre-1970s, some talc also contained asbestos, a known cause of cancer. Since then asbestos-free talc has been used in consumer products, but it’s not totally clear if there’s still a cancer risk.
Johnson & Johnson maintain innocence and will be appealing the verdict, claiming their talcum powder is absolutely safe to use.
However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that based on limited evidence, genital use of talc-based body powder is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Bloomberg reports one juror, Billie Ray, said Johnson & Johnson should have included warning labels on their product.
“It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention,” she said. “It seemed like they didn’t care.”
Company spokesperson Dan Rene said the verdict “serves to undermine efforts by the scientific community to determine the true causes of ovarian cancer.”
“The theories relied upon by plaintiffs’ experts lacked scientific foundation,” he added.
Giannecchini and her team felt the jury heard their message loud and clear, according to her lawyer.
“If this doesn’t send a message to J&J to add a warning, I don’t know what will,” he said.