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Woman blames cancer on baby powder, awarded £85m compensation

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A jury in St Louis, Missouri, United States of America, has awarded a record sum of £85m to a 62-year-old woman, Lois Slemp, of Wise, Virginia, in the latest court case against a pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson.

Slemp had blamed her ovarian cancer on Johnson & Johnson baby powder.

Slemp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, blames her illness on her four-decade-long use of the company’s talcum powder products.

The disease has now spread to her liver and she was too ill to attend the trial.

But in an audiotape of her testimony played in court, she said: “I trusted Johnson & Johnson – big mistake.”

Johnson & Johnson said it would appeal and disputed the scientific evidence behind Slemp’s claims.

The company also noted that a St. Louis jury found in its favour in a similar case in March, while two more cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge.

A statement from the company said: “We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

Much research has found no link or a weak one between ovarian cancer and the use of baby powder for feminine hygiene, and most major health groups have declared talc harmless.

But the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies genital use of talc as “possibly carcinogenic.”

Lawyers cited other research that began connecting talcum powder to ovarian cancer in the 1970s, claiming women who regularly use it on their genital area face up to a 40 per cent higher risk of developing the disease.

Three previous juries in St Louis have awarded a total of £152m to claimants in similar cases.

One of those was ovarian cancer sufferer Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, who was awarded more than £58m in October last year.

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