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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay out £3.6 billion in asbestos talcum powder cancer case

Johnson & Johnson have said they plan to appeal the verdict. Photo: PA

A US court has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7 billion (£3.6 billion) to a group of 22 women who alleged the company’s talcum powders caused their ovarian cancer.

This means the company will be forced to pay out $550 million (£419 million) in compensation and an additional $4.14 billion (£3.15 billion) in punitive damages.

The women’s legal team claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been laced with cancer-causing asbestos “for decades”.

The jury’s verdict at a St Louis Court in Missouri follows six weeks of testimony.

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The women’s lead lawyer, Mark Lanier, said: “For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products.”

“We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer.

“The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease.

“J&J sells the same powders in a marvelously safe corn starch variety. If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning.”

Johnson & Johnson has denied that its products contain asbestos and said it “remains confident” that they do not cause ovarian cancer.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to a number of health serious conditions, including cancer. Credit: PA

The consumer and pharmaceuticals giant plans to appeal the verdict.

“Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer,” the company said in a statement.

“The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.”

The company is reportedly still battling around 9,000 talc cases.