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Jury awards record $110.5M in Johnson’s baby powder lawsuit

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By Joy Johnston, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

ST. LOUIS — A jury in Missouri awarded a Virginia woman $110.5 million in the latest lawsuit alleging that using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused ovarian cancer.

Three previous St. Louis juries awarded a total of almost $200 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims; those cases are under appeal. According to The Associated Press, approximately 2,000 state and federal lawsuits have been filed nationwide over concerns about prolonged talcum powder use.

Lois Slemp, 62, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, and the cancer has now spread to her liver, The Associated Press reported. She used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-containing products for more than 40 years, per court documents. Slemp was too ill to attend the trial, but submitted an audiotape of her deposition testimony.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement to The Associated Press that it would appeal the decision and continues to defend the safety of its baby powder. The company disputes the evidence behind the plaintiffs’ allegations. The company noted court victories in which juries have agreed with the company that there wasn’t reliable evidence that talc products cause ovarian cancer.

Talc is a mineral that is widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products since the late 1800s.

While there is liovarian cancer and baby powder usage for feminine hygiene, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies that particular usage as “possibly carcinogenic.”

Plaintiff attorneys point to case studies that suggest women who regularly use talc on their genital area face up to a 40 percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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