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Johnson & Johnson lost a third straight trial over claims its talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer with a St. Louis jury awarding a California woman more than $70 million.

J&J is accused in about 1,700 lawsuits in state and federal court of ignoring studies linking its baby powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products to ovarian cancer and failing to warn customers about the risk. Thursday’s verdict follows damages verdicts of $72 million and $55 million against the company this year in the first two talc claims to go to trial in St. Louis. Both are being appealed.

Deborah Giannecchini, 62, used J&J’s baby powder for feminine hygiene for more than four decades until her diagnosis with ovarian cancer three years ago, according to her lawyers. She has an 80 percent chance of dying in the next two years, and has undergone surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, they said.

A J&J unit was ordered to pay $65 million in punitive damages and 90 percent of about $2.5 million for medical costs and pain and suffering. Co-defendant Imerys Talc America, the supplier of the talc, was hit with $2.5 million in punitive damages. Jurors returned the verdict after deliberating for about three hours.

The company should have provided a warning label on the product to let consumers decide whether to use talc, one juror Billie Ray, 76, of St. Louis, said after the trial. “It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention,” she said. “It seemed like they didn’t care.”

Giannecchini appeared overwhelmed by the verdict. “I’ve waited for a long time for this,” she said. “I’ve wanted this so badly.”

J&J will appeal, said Carol Goodrich, company spokeswoman. “We are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” she said in a statement.


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