A US jury has ordered the company Johnson & Johnson to pay $55m to a woman who said she got ovarian cancer from using its talcum products. After a three-week trial in Missouri, Gloria Ristesund was awarded $5m in compensatory damages and $50m in punitive damages.
She had been using the Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder on her genitals for decades, the court in St Louis, Missouri heard. After a hysterectomy and other surgeries, her cancer is in remission.
It was the second straight legal defeat for the company which faces 1,200 lawsuits accusing it of not warning people about the cancer risks of its talc-based products, Reuters reported.
J&J spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said the company would appeal the verdict which contradicted 30 years of research that found cosmetic talc was safe. J&J is also appealing a verdict handed down by the same court which awarded $72m to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using talc powder for years.
In a statement, J&J said: "For over 100 years, Johnson & Johnson has provided consumers with a safe choice for cosmetic powder products and we will continue to work hard to exceed consumer expectations and evolving product preferences."
Scientists have told Reuters the evidence of a real danger is inconclusive.
Jim Onder, attorney for the plaintiff, Gloria Ristesund, said internal Johnson & Johnson documents showed that the company was aware of those studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer in the 1970s.
"Instead of giving a warning, what they did was targeted the groups most at risk for developing ovarian cancer," specifically marketing to overweight women, he said, according to the Associated Press.