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article imagePharma company pays out in ovarian cancer talcum powder case

By Tim Sandle     May 6, 2017 in Health
The major pharma company Johnson & Johnson has been instructed by a U.S. court to pay $110 million to a woman who said she developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder.
The decision was made by a judge at the St Louis state court. The payment is the biggest so far from some 2,400 lawsuits that stand, of have been heard, against Johnson & Johnson in relation to its talc-based products. The woman in question, the BBC reports, is Lois Slemp, aged 62, who hails from Virginia, Missouri. Back in 2016, a Missouri jury awarded $72 million in damages to the family of Jackie Fox, who died of ovarian cancer having used talc powder for years.
Slemp's claim was that she developed the cancer after four decades of using talcum powder products. The prosecutors arguing her case indicated that the pharmaceutical company the company did not adequately warn users of talcum powder products about the cancer risks. Johnson & Johnson do not agree and are set to appeal. In a statement the company writes: "We are preparing for additional trials this year and we continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder,."
Talcum ('talc') is a clay mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. As a powder it is one of the most widely used substances in baby powder, often with added corn starch. The color of talc ranges from white to grey or green and it has a distinctly greasy feel. Talc derives from ultramafic rocks, such as soapstone. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and reduces friction, which is why it is a popular product for protecting the skin.
Over the past decade concerns have been raised that the use of talc contributes to certain types of disease, mainly cancers of the ovaries and lungs. However, there are scientific studies that support this and studies which do not support this.
According to The Guardian "the scientific evidence linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer is not overwhelming." However, many of the cases rest on an "internal memo from a medical consultant employed by Johnson & Johnson that suggested that “anybody who denies [the] risks” between “hygienic” talc use and ovarian cancer would be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer."
In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies talc used on the genitals as "possibly carcinogenic", advice which is intended to reflect the mixed evidence.
More about Ovarian cancer, Johnson&Johnson, Talcum powder, Talc
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