Johnson & Johnson baby powder on a store shelf. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who argued that using the powder contributed to their ovarian cancer, reports CNN.
The big picture: The women were the first to successfully argue that talcum powder contained asbestos and won the case leading to the largest verdict against the company to date.
The backdrop: Concerns behind talc's link to cancer first surfaced in 1971 and still persist today.
- A judge overturned two rulings in 2017 in favor of plaintiffs against Johnson & Johnson where the company's powder product was accused of causing cancer.
- Another California judge ruled in favor of the company when a woman linked her mesothelioma cancer to their talcum powder products.
The most recent verdict against the company marks a shift in the thinking behind talc and its alleged link to cancer.
What they're saying: Mark Lanier, the lawyer for the women in the case, accused Johnson & Johnson of covering up the link between cancer and talc for years. The link between talc and cancer has been debated for years with varying opinions on it.
- One study by the African American Cancer and Epidemiology Study said body powder was "significantly associated" with epithelial ovarian cancer.
- Another study by Journal of the National Cancer Institute says there isn't a link to perineal use of powder and ovarian cancer.
- The U.S. Toxicology program does not have talc listed as a cancer causing substance but also say they have not fully reviewed it as a possibility.
The bottom line: The verdict in the latest landmark case against Johnson & Johnson may set a precedent for future cases and research in determining whether talc cancerous.