Johnson & Johnson To Pay $417M To Talc-Cancer Victim

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A California woman has been awarded $417 million in damages after a jury found Johnson & Johnson liable for her developing terminal ovarian cancer.

For five decades Eva Echeverria used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based Baby Powder for feminine hygiene purposes, without being informed of the risks.

Natural Society reports:

The award includes $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

Los Angeles resident Eva Echeverria, 63, said she had used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder since she was 11. She stopped using the product in 2016, after reading about another woman who had also developed ovarian cancer as a result of using the powder.

Hundreds of other cases are currently awaiting trial in California. Thousands of similar cases are progressing through state and federal courts, even as we speak. Juries elsewhere have returned 4 other verdicts against Johnson & Johnson.

The plaintiffs allege Johnson & Johnson ignored studies linking it’s Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products to cancer. [2]

Echeverria was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. She had a softball-sized tumor removed from one of her ovaries, but she is now at the end of her life and was too sick to attend the trial.

Echeverria’s attorney, Mark Robinson, said:

“Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years.

She really didn’t want sympathy. She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women.” [3]

Robinson added:

“Johnson & Johnson had many warning bells over a 30 year period but failed to warn the women who were buying its product.”

In her testimony, Echeverria said that if Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder had come with a warning label about the potential for cancer, she would have stopped using it much sooner. [1]

Due to the fact that talcum powder is legally considered a cosmetic, Johnson & Johnson has no legal obligation to include a warning label. As a cosmetic product, talcum powder does not have to undergo a review by the FDA.

Some other talc-based products on the market do carry labels that mention the potential risk of ovarian cancer after frequent application for feminine hygiene. Many women apply talcum powder to their genital area, or on sanitary napkins, to prevent odor and chaffing.

Research into the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer has been a mixed bag of results. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the genital use of talc-based body powder is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says the U.S. National Toxicology Program has not fully reviewed talc as a possible carcinogen.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it plans to appeal the verdict.

Carol Goodrich, a representative for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., said in a statement:

“Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease.

We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder. In April, the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Editorial Board wrote, ‘The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.’ We are preparing for additional trials in the US and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”


[1] CNN

[2] Los Angeles Times

[3] The Washington Post

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