Transcript for Johnson and Johnson ordered to pay $417M to one woman over cancer claims
And we're back with that blockbuster ruling against Johnson & Johnson, a jury ordering the company to pay a record $417 million to a woman who claims its talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer. ABC's Rebecca Jarvis is here with those details. Good morning. Reporter: That's right. Good morning to you. A massive victory for one woman against Johnson & Johnson. The $417 million judgment reached after a nearly month-long trial. There were more than 1,000 other people who have filed similar claims about Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. This morning pharmaceutical and consumer giant Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $417 million to this woman, 63-year-old Eva Echevarria, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer ten years ago and is terminally ill. She says she started using the company's famous baby powder when she was 11 years old and only stopped using it last year after seeing a story about a possible link between the talc used in the product and ovarian cancer. Do you have any fear you might die here? Yes. Reporter: A jury watching the grandmother in this videotaped deposition, her lawyers saying she is on her deathbed and currently too sick to testify in court. I have a grandson and he's 5 years old and he loves me so much. Reporter: According to the latest lawsuit, Echevarria claimed she developed ovarian cancer as a direct and proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder. Echevarria testifying if the company had labeled their product with a warning, she would have stopped using it. Eva would like to get the message out to other women in the country. Reporter: This is just the latest in a series of lawsuits Johnson & Johnson has faced from women with similar claims. Last year juries in three different Missouri trials awarded women combined damages of over $300 million. Hoping that Johnson & Johnson will listen to us and give us a warning and give other women a warning. Reporter: According to the medical community the evidence of a possible link is unclear. The American cancer society saying it is not clear if consumer products containing Cal couple powder increase cancer risk. Johnson & Johnson telling ABC news while it sympathizes with the women and families impacted by this disease, it will appeal the verdict saying it is guided by the science which supports the safety of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder and Johnson & Johnson is also preparing to defend itself at those other trials but, of course, for consumers, Amy, still many questions. Exactly, Rebecca. Thank you, so to answer some of those let's bring in our senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton. So obviously the big question is just how safe is talcum powder. This has long been a concern in gynecology back 17 years ago when I was an intern we were trained, you know, try to avoid it. There may be an associated risk. It's controversial. Some studies in the medical literature show as high as a 33% increased associated risk of women who use talc in the genital region and ovarian cancer and has been found in the ovaries and lymph nodes of those with cancer. However, flip side, if talc really were that causative in cancer, we surgeons have it on our gloves and putting our hands into bodies every day and there would be likely a much higher rate of ovarian cancer. The American cancer society said it's not clear that there's an associated increased risk between this particular type of ovarian cancer and we have to remember a woman has a 1 in 75 chance of developing ovarian cancer. Multiple factors are associated with that risk. It's very, very difficult to pinpoint one factor with a cause of cancer. Any tips for the American consumer when using talcum powder. You know, I think we have to remember frequency and dose. It can be safe when used on other parts of the body. It is not meant to go in the body via any orifice so should be kept away from that area but, again, it's very controversial. All right, Dr. Jen, thanks so much as always. We appreciate it.
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