Johnson & Johnson to pay $110m in cancer lawsuit

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Johnson & Johnson's agreed to buy Guidant Corp, a defibrillator manufacturer for $25.4 billion.

After 62-year old Lois Slemp from Virginia, Missouri filed a case in a USA court claiming that using Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder gave her ovarian cancer, the court has ordered the company to pay $110m to the woman.

Besides Slemp's case, three other jury trials in St. Louis reached similar outcomes previous year, awarding the plaintiffs $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million, for a combined total of $307.6 million.

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Lois Slemp, 62, of Wise, Va., claimed her use of the company's Shower to Shower and baby powder products over four decades as well as asbestos particles found inside her caused her cancer.

"Once again we've shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America", Ted Meadows, a lawyer for Slemp and other plaintiffs, said in a statement. The Food and Drug Administration says it has looked into this and hasn't found any asbestos in the products it checked.

Few studies highlight a risk of cancer, but these depend on the participant's personal reminiscence of how much talcum powder they used throughout all of their life.

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Johnson & Johnson and other companies have continued to defend the use of talcum powder in feminine hygiene products; however, the condom industry halted the mineral's use in the mid-1990s amid the growing concerns about its link to ovarian cancer risk.

Health products giant Johnson & Johnson lost another lawsuit this week to a woman who claimed their talc-based products caused her ovarian cancer and should have displayed a warning label. "We sympathize with the plaintiff's family, but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence". But all talcum products sold in the US have not contained asbestos since the 1970s. If talc does raise the risk of ovarian cancer, the increased risk "is likely to be very small", according to the American Cancer Society. Slemp used the product for 40 years and developed ovarian cancer in 2012. Study results thus far have been mixed, and the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies that type of use of talc-based body powder as "possibly carcinogenic to humans". The next trial is set to begin on April 11 in St. Louis.

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