Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay £3.6bn in talc asbestos cancer case

Johnson & Johnson must shell out $4.7B after baby powder tainted with asbestos blamed for causing cancer

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was on Thursday ordered to pay out $4.69 billion in damages in a lawsuit representing 22 women and their families who alleged a talc sold by the company contained asbestos and caused them to suffer cancer.

They allege the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos since at least the 1970s but failed to warn consumers about the risks.

In the trial that went on for six weeks, the women said that they developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talc products for decades. The company said it remained confident that its products do not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

Jurors announced the award for compensatory damages Thursday in a lawsuit that included 22 plaintiffs.

The defense contended that claims linking asbestos to J&J's talc-based products was a lawyer-driven argument that lacked strong scientific support and that the women developed ovarian cancer for other reasons.

J&J "rigged" tests to avoid showing the presence of asbestos, Lanier said.

"The multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed", Goodrich said, adding that every verdict against the company in the particular court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed. "With all of this independent testing, there's some massive conspiracy going on at Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to asbestos?"

The company denied that its products ever contained asbestos and insisted that they do not cause cancer.

A state trial court jury on Thursday handed up a $4.69 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson. Six of the 22 plaintiffs have died from ovarian cancer, including two from Missouri.

The company has had a better record with judges than juries in the ovarian cancer cases.

The verdict was given by a jury in Missouri, US, and the pharmaceutical company also faces claims from 9,000 other people.

The verdict came shortly after the jury awarded $550 million in damages to the women. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas. However, there are experts who are still concerned about the safety of talc today, despite new asbestos-free formulas. The company has faced legal challenges on the same issue before, which it is still appealing or contesting. Plus, many appeals courts cut back punitive damages awards on appeal. A court in California ruled on a similar case against the cosmetics company previous year, calling on it to pay $417 million.

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