A St. Louis jury has awarded a multi-billion dollar verdict to 22 women who suffered ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.   Talcum powder ovarian cancer has been claimed by more than 9,000 woman across the United States.

Numerous lawsuits claim that talcum powder ovarian cancer is caused by asbestos fibers contained within Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.  In the most recent case, the company claimed that it had tested for talcum powder, and that those tests ruled out the presence of asbestos in its talcum powder products.  By contrast, the plaintiffs argued that the tests were insufficient and failed to find levels of asbestos resulting in talcum powder ovarian cancer.

Asbestos may be best known for causing mesothelioma – a fairly rare form of cancer that most often affects the thin linings in the lungs.   More recently, however, studies have found clear links between exposure to asbestos and ovarian cancer.  This is alarming, as ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women older than 35.  According to American Cancer Society estimates, more than 22,000 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. Women have a 1 in 75 chance of developing the illness during their lifetime.

In the St. Louis case, the jury awarded $550 million in actual damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages.  The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that the women had used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products for years.

The trial, which began June 4 in St. Louis Circuit Court, and ended with a jury verdict on July 12, involved 22 plaintiffs making claims against the company. Six of the woman had died prior to trial.

Studies linking talcum powder usage and ovarian cancer date back as far as 1971. Doctors noticed that about seventy-five percent of ovarian tumors were found to have talc powder embedded in the tumor. In 1982, the New York Times alleged that Johnson & Johnson – the largest manufacturer of talcum powder – knew of the risk of ovarian cancer in talcum powder users, and failed to warn consumers. In June 2013, a study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston was published in Cancer Prevention Research. That study led researchers to conclude that the use of talcum powder in the genital area by women results in a greater risk of development of ovarian cancer. The study compared 8,525 women who were diagnosed with cancer with 9,800 women without a history of cancer. The researchers determined that women who regularly used talcum powder after bathing had a 24 percent greater chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Researchers estimate that 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer are caused by talcum powder use every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ovarian cancer is the most deadly cancer of the female reproductive system. It is referred to as a “silent killer” because by the time it is detected, in most cases it is too late.

If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer after a history of using talcum powder, contact the talcum powder product liability lawyers at Clark, Perdue & List.