St. Louis is holding another trial over the potential link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, according to the Montgomery Adviser. Trial proceedings in the case, in which a California woman says her cancer was caused by decades of regular talc use, were scheduled to begin on Monday, September 26, 2016.
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Two previous trials have seen Missouri juries hold Johnson and Johnson accountable for failing to warn American women that talc, the main ingredient in baby powder, appears to increase the risk for ovarian cancer.
Cancer survivors and their families have been awarded more than $127 million. Now, the company is hoping that a third jury is not similarly convinced by the evidence and arguments presented at trial.
The lawsuit at issue concerns a woman who used Johnson and Johnson talcum powder for 46 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 and has now undergone chemotherapy and a hysterectomy. Her trial is being presided over by Judge Rex Burlison, court records from the 22nd Circuit Court of St. Louis, Missouri show.
According to one of her attorneys, “the regulations that apply to cosmetic companies require a warning if the product may possibly be associated with a hazard. Whether you think there’s a causal connection or not, there is certainly enough evidence to show a possible risk of ovarian cancer, and [Johnson and Johnson] just [is] not warning about it.”
So far, juries have agreed with that logic.
In May, a Missori state jury awarded Gloria Ristesund, a survivor of ovarian cancer, upwards of $55 million in damages. Later in 2016, a second jury ordered Johnson and Johnson to pay the estate of Jacqueline Fox, who died before her trial was over, a staggering $72 million.
Following the first judgment, Johnson and Johnson sought to overturn or reduce Ristesund’s award through post-trial motions. The company’s attempts, all unsuccessful, have triggered a request to appeal the decision, filed on September 16, 2016. An appeal in Fox’s case is also expected.
The talc powder cases are as much about the state of current medical science as they are about what Johnson and Johnson knew – or did not know – of that science.
Jurors have found one piece of evidence particularly compelling – a series of internal memos, never disclosed to government regulators, in which the company’s medical consultant advised executives to stop denying the results of cancer studies. In one communication, consultant Alfred Wehner wrote:
“At that time there had been about nine studies (more by now) published in the open literature that did show a statistically significant association between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer. Anybody who denies this risk that the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s leading talcum powder manufacturers. In fact, the company pioneered sales of baby powder during the early 20th century.
More than 2,000 women and surviving family members have now filed Johnson and Johnson baby powder lawsuits, a local St. Louis Fox News affiliate reports. More claims, however, could be on the way if this latest trial ends with another major verdict in favor of an ovarian cancer survivor.