Johnson & Johnson, the world’s leading producer of personal health care products, has been ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who was diagnosed with cancer after purchasing their products for decades.
According to ABC News, Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, Ala. used the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products for 35 years, until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Two years ago, she brought a civil suit against the company, claiming they intentionally hid the health risks that come from regular use of the talcum powder in their products. Fox’s son took over as plaintiff in the case after she died in October at the age of 62.
Earlier this week, a Missouri jury ordered that Johnson & Johnson pay $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages to the Fox family. An internal memo from 1997 that compared the use of talc powder for hygienic use to smoking cigarettes seemed to sway the jury against the company.
“It was really clear they were hiding something,” jury foreman Krista Smith said, according to the Telegraph. “All they had to do was put a warning label on.”
“We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial,” Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Carol Goodrich said in a press release. “We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”
In 1999, most companies replaced talc with cornstarch after caution was recommended by the American Cancer Society. Although there is still no scientific proof of a relationship between talc powder and cancer, a possible link is still being heavily researched.