ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) — Two huge verdicts in St. Louis court against Johnson & Johnson, and one of the attorneys on the case says there could be a thousand more to come.
While the link between ovarian cancer and talc is a matter of scientific dispute, a St. Louis jury last Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to a South Dakota survivor of the disease. In February, another St. Louis jury awarded $72 million to relatives of an Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer.
They are among several hundred lawsuits claiming that regularly applying products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower to the genitals can cause cancer.
Both cases were handled by the Onder Law Firm, based in Webster Groves, which is running advertisements urging cancer victims to come forward. Jim Onder says there are approximately 1,000 similar cases filed in St. Louis and another 200 in New Jersey.
Those numbers may rise.
“We’ve received thousands of phone calls from across the country,” Onder tells KMOX News. “You know, they’re horribly emotional calls.”
The Onder firm is hiring additional staff to deal with the deluge of calls and the increased caseload.
Onder doesn’t expect we’ll soon hear the end of talcum powder cancer cases. He says the latency period for the product can last decades.
“It’s a lot like asbestos. People will be exposed today and 10, 20, 30 years from now they’ll be developing ovarian cancer,” he says.
Onder says multiple medical studies show not a 35 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer for women who use talcum powder, but a 200 to 500 percent increase for certain groups.
“They went off and decided — because sales are dropping, profits are dropping — that they’re going to target African-American, Hispanic and overweight women, all groups of women that they know are at increased risk at baseline of ovarian cancer.”
“Unfortunately, the jury’s decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc,” Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement to the Associated Press.
She said Johnson & Johnson is appealing both verdicts while “focusing on the next trial.”
(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)