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J&J Still Doesn’t Warn About Talc Dangers

Posted on October 31, 2017

You would think a recent $417 million verdict would serve as a wake-up call to Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

But the healthcare giant still does not have a warning about the talcum powder-ovarian cancer connection on its baby powder.

It might be the lack of warning that angered jurors in the recent trial of Eva Echeverria. The 62-year-old California woman is suffering from stage four ovarian cancer. She is so sick she was unable to appear at her trial accusing Johnson & Johnson of failing to warn the public about the use of talc for genital application.

The jury heard enough – how the company had suspicions about how talc particles can travel up the fallopian tubes to cause cancer. The powders never contained any warning for the public.

In advance of the trial, J&J put out its “Junk science” messengers.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, the author cited the National Nurses Health study of more than 121,000 women which found a modest elevation in risk for one variation of ovarian cancer — an invasive serous ovarian cancer, exactly what Echeverria is suffering from.

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Also citing the influence of payments to both sides of the debate for professional opinions, the writer concludes that it’s not surprising that the public and jurors can’t decide who to believe.

But jurors are deciding, and they believe the plaintiffs.

In a St. Louis court where there are 2,500 ovarian cases pending against J&J, jurors have awarded plaintiffs more than $300 million in damages so far.

Maybe it’s the warning found on other talcum powders that helped jurors decide. In the Echeverria case, jurors saw body powders from the Dollar Tree store – Angel of Mine Baby Powder, and from Walmart — Spring Fresh Powder.

Both have explicit warnings on the label!

“Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer,” and “Medical evidence suggests that women who use talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product run a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.”

That’s all Eva Echeverria wished she had seen on the label of her J&J powder. She wouldn’t have used it, she said, which she did beginning at age 11. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 after 40 years of use.

One solution for J&J might have been offered at the April Shareholder’s meeting in New Jersey. A shareholder in attendance stood at a microphone and asked J&J CEO Alex Gorsky why the company keeps losing its talcum powder cases.

“Can’t you get meaner lawyers?” she suggested.   That’s it. Maybe their lawyers aren’t mean enough.