J&J ordered to pay $4.7 billion in asbestos cancer case

Via Alexey Novikov

A USA court's jury in St Louis, Missouri, ordered Johnson & Johnson, on Thursday, to pay damages of up to United States dollars 4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that asbestos present in the company's talcum powder was the reason for them developing ovarian cancer.

After falling almost 3 percent in pre-market trading, shares of the company were lately down almost 1 percent.

The company, which plans to appeal the verdict, said it was "deeply disappointed" with the decision.

A St. Louis jury has awarded $550 million to almost two dozen women who claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer.

United Kingdom-based cancer charity Ovacome has said that there have been concerns for some years that using talcum powder on the genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, but says this has not been proven by research.

Six of the 22 plaintiffs in the trial have died from ovarian cancer. The jurors then deliberated over how much to award in punishment damages. She even wrote a book to help others going through an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

The punitive damages are among the largest ever awarded in a product liability case, he said.

During the St. Louis trial, attorneys for the plaintiffs presented evidence that J&J's talc products have contained asbestos for decades, according to a release from the Lanier Law Firm.

Johnson & Johnson has faced multiple trials in St. Louis over ovarian-cancer claims, losing four of the first five to go to trial.

"Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies", it said.

Company shares have dropped significantly since the verdict was announced, there's no question that the entire J&J brand will suffer greatly as a result. However, the prosecution in this case argued that J&J and the FDA's tests were flawed.

The landmark trial is the first of its kind concerning claims that asbestos in J&J's talc causes ovarian cancer.

The women who sued, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job-retraining program, come from states including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY. Following that case, multiple women came forward and Johnson & Johnson is now facing around 9,000 cases regarding its talcum powder. A New Jersey judge in 2016 stalled lawsuits in that state by tossing two cases set for trial, also finding a lack of scientific evidence.

In May, jurors in California awarded $25.7 million to a woman who blamed her mesothelioma diagnosis on routinely using talc on children and herself. Still, this is a huge win for both the women defendants and others who claim adverse effects from the company's product.

Punitive damages are still to be decided for the 22 plaintiffs in a case that began June 4 in St Louis Circuit Court.

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