In less than three months, cosmetic giant Johnson & Johnson has suffered a major defeat in a new legal battle over its continued use of talcum, a chemical linked to cancer.
This time, the St. Louis jury ordered the firm to pay Gloria Ristesund an amount of $55 million in damages. Ristesund allegedly developed ovarian cancer after using J&J’s products made with talcum powder for 35 years, CNN reported.
According to the report, the company knew all along that talcum powder could possibly cause cancer, but the firm continued to make it appear that it’s safe for cosmetic use, said the complainant’s lawyers at the Onder Law Firm.
“Internal documents from J & J show it knew of studies connecting talc use and ovarian cancer but, to this day, it continues to market it as safe — neglecting any warning,” Ristesund’s lawyers were quoted as saying by CNN.
But Carol Goodrich, spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson Consumer, maintained the safety of talcum use for cosmetic products. Goodrich said the decision of the St. Louis court deviates the years of studies supporting the safeness of talcum as an active ingredient in cosmetic products.
“We understand that women and families affected by ovarian cancer are searching for answers, and we deeply sympathize with all who have been affected by this devastating disease with no known cause. Johnson & Johnson has always taken questions about the safety of our products extremely seriously,” Goodrich said in a statement.
The same court ruling is not the first instance the cosmetic giant was ordered to pay its customer over the use of talcum. Earlier this year, the same court decided in favor of an Alabama woman’s family who died of ovarian cancer last year, as previously reported by Morning News USA. Similar to Ristesund’s case, the family of Jackie Fox alleged that she developed the disease due to years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
Talcum in its natural form is a carcinogenic compound—asbestos. Although commercially used talc is usually free from asbestos since its ban in the 1970s, some remain doubtful as to its safety for human use, especially if applied in the genital area.