After a US woman died from ovarian cancer, which she said was caused by using Johnson & Johnson's powder, a jury in the US state of Missouri has awarded $72 million to her family.
The civil suit filed by Jackie Fox of Birmingham was part of a broader claim in the city of St Louis Circuit Court involving about 60 people.
Her son took over as plaintiff, following his mother's death in the last October, which was more than two years after her diagnosis.
Speaking on the issue, the death victim’s son, Marvin Salter of Jacksonville, Florida said that his late mother was a foster parent, who used the talcum powder as a bathroom staple for decades. “It just became second nature, like brushing your teeth. It's a household name," he said.
The jury said that Fox was entitled to $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Attorney James Onder said he "absolutely" expects Johnson & Johnson company to appeal the verdict.
Previously, the talcum powder company has been targeted by health and consumer groups, alleging harmful ingredients in items, including its iconic Johnson's ‘No More Tears’ baby shampoo.
A coalition of groups in May 2009, called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics began pushing Johnson & Johnson to eliminate questionable ingredients from its baby and adult personal care products.
The New Jersey based company, after facing several allegations for about three years in the form of petitions, boycott threat and huge negative publicity, finally agreed to eliminate the ingredients 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, both considered probable human carcinogens, from all products by 2015.
The company was considering its next legal move, said a spokeswoman Carol Goodrich.
“The verdict goes against decades of sound science proving the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient in multiple products,” she said, citing supportive research by the US Food and Drug Administration and National Cancer Institute.
Fox's attorneys at trial, introduced into evidence, an internal memo in September 1997, from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant suggesting that, “anybody who denies risks between "hygenic" talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer, denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary."
By Phani Ch