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Court Orders Johnson & Johnson Pay Woman Who Developed Ovarian Cancer $417 Million

On Monday, a Los Angeles jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million — $70m in compensatory damages and $347m in punitive damages — to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer from the company’s talcum-based baby powder, CNN reports.

63-year-old Eva Echeverria said she started using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder when she was 11 years old. Decades later, at the age of 53, she was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.

Just last year a Missouri court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to two of the company’s talc-based products. It was the first case to result in damages against Johnson & Johnson over the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

Talc, a naturally occurring clay material that is known as “baby powder” when pulverized, is also used in cosmetics, soap and toothpaste. According to Consumer Safety, the relationship between ovarian tumors and talc is still unclear after 40 years, but the American Cancer Society says, “In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled.”

Echeverria’s is the first of hundreds of similar cases against Johnson & Johnson to be held in California, and thousands more are happening across the country.

Following the verdict, Johnson & Johnson told CNN it will begin the appeals process:

Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease,” Carol Goodrich, a representative for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., said in a statement. “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.

Thinkstock photo by ThitareeSarmkasat