Ovarian Cancer | St. Louis Public Radio

Ovarian Cancer

Johnson & Johnson hit with $4.69 billion loss in baby powder-ovarian cancer case

Jul 13, 2018
Quentin Lueninghoener | Fairwarning

The legal assault on Johnson & Johnson and its signature baby powder reached new heights today, when a state court jury in Missouri found the company responsible for the ovarian cancers of 22 women, and ordered the drug and consumer products giant to pay $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the cancer victims or their survivors.

The verdict by the jury of six men and six women in St. Louis Circuit Court was by far the largest yet in the mushrooming baby powder litigation.

Dr. Andrea Hagemann (L) and Susan Robben (R) joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to talk about ovarian cancer.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

October marks ovarian cancer awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women.

In the United States, each year 22,000 women are diagnosed with the disease and 15,000 die from it.  

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed early warning signs of ovarian cancer, resources for those in treatment and ongoing efforts to increase survivorship with two guests:

Headshot of Jacqueline Fox, lead plaintiff in a case against Johnson and Johnson
Courtesy Beasley, Allen Law Firm

Johnson & Johnson has suffered a major courtroom defeat in the first in a wave of lawsuits claiming that talc products marketed by the company for feminine hygiene use caused ovarian cancer.

A jury in St. Louis late Monday night ordered the health care products giant to pay $72 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, Ala. She died of ovarian cancer in October at the age of 62 after years of using the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene.

St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness president Lisa Sienkiewicz stands next to the Kiener Fountain in downtown St. Louis, which has been dyed teal in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

To kick off National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, local organizers dyed the water in the Kiener Plaza Fountain in downtown St. Louis teal -- the trademark color of the awareness campaign.

Sometimes called the ‘silent killer,’ ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognize before it’s in an advanced stage.

The rate of survival is low: 20,593 American women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. 14,346 women died, according to the Center for Disease Control. But treatments are most effective when the cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2009 - "No woman should be lying in a hospital bed, suffering, wondering how she's going to pay for her health care," said Tricia Recker.

A 5-year ovarian cancer survivor, Recker spoke at a health care forum at the Center for Advanced Medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Dec. 30. She echoed the words of President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign, as he spoke of his own mother's battle with ovarian cancer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - Beth Hudson and Susan Bober. Bober found out she had a BRCA1 genetic mutation through testing and then informed her sister. Hudson also inherited the mutation.

"This is my sister Sue and she saved my life."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 23, 2008 - Finding a single test to screen for early detection of ovarian cancer has been cancer researchers' equivalent of the search for the Holy Grail.

Doctors use mammography to screen for breast cancer, the Pap smear for cervical cancer and PSA blood tests for prostate cancer. Ovarian cancer has had no equivalent screening test.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 - Christina Applegate, the Emmy Award winning actress who starred in Married ... with Children, was recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She has since undergone a double mastectomy and is now reportedly cancer-free. Applegate's cancer was discovered through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It's a test not commonly performed on women because it is expensive and can detect false abnormalities.