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Verdict goes against baby powder manufacturer

Johnson & Johnson is currently facing thousands of claims tied to its talc-based products. While Johnson's baby powder is not the only talc-based product on the market, it is one of the most common. When studies began to link genital talc use to instances of ovarian cancer in women, Johnson & Johnson denied the connection. The company continues to refuse to warn their customers about the danger, even as the lawsuits against it pile up.

A large damage award

A court in California issued a verdict against J & J last week. The verdict is the largest to date, with the jury awarding the plaintiff $417 million. Johnson & Johnson will certainly appeal, but the verdict may help other victims of talc-based products come forward.

The earliest suspicions about a link between talc and ovarian cancer were based on the presence of talc particles in ovarian tumors. More than 40 years after that initial discovery, there is still no warning on products containing talc. While Johnson & Johnson denies the connection, the jury in California found the evidence compelling when presented with both sides of the issue. J & J knows about the problem and is not willing to share that information with consumers.

The power of a warning

Many of the claims against manufacturers of talc products are based on the failure to warn. Companies fear that providing a warning label could hurt sales and further encourage the victims of ovarian cancer to hold them accountable in court. Consumers simply want to know whether they are risking their health by using a particular product. In the absence of a warning, consumers will likely continue to use talc-based products in ways that might be exposing them to harm.

Source: The Washington Post, "Does talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?," by Laurie McGinley, 25 August 2017

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