An American woman has been awarded a record-breaking £85 million ($110,355,500) after claiming Johnson & Johnson baby powder gave her cancer.
Lois Slemp, 62, of Wise, Virginia was awarded the sum by a jury in St Louis, Missouri and the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will have to pay up.
Slemp convinced the jury her ovarian cancer, which has now spread to her liver also, was caused by her four-decade-long use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.
Slemp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, was too ill to appear in court but jurors heard an audiotape of her testimony which read, “I trusted Johnson & Johnson – big mistake.”
The company – which has been dubbed one of America’s most loved brands – have defended their talcum powder products and will be disputing the scientific claims used to back up Ms Slemp’s case.
A statement read:
We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
While the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies genital use of talc as “possibly carcinogenic”, much scientific research has found little or no connection between ovarian cancer and the use of baby powder for feminine hygiene.
Research from the 1970s was used my Ms Slemp’s lawyers. However, most major health groups have declared the product harmless in more recent years.
Ms Slemp’s award is higher than any of its kind. Three St Louis juries have awarded sums to claimants in similar cases, now totalling £152 million.
One of those was ovarian cancer sufferer Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, who was awarded more than £58million in October last year.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson noted that one St. Louis jury found in its favour in a similar case in March, and two more cases were thrown out by a judge in New Jersey.
In total, 2,400 lawsuits have been raised by consumers.