JOHNSON & Johnson has been ordered to pay a record $US4.69 billion ($A6.34 billion) to 22 women in the United States who alleged the company's talc-based products contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian 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.
Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company believes its products are safe and will pursue "all available appellate remedies".
Six of the 22 women are now deceased and one more was too ill to attend the trial; the courtroom was filled with the remaining plaintiffs and their families and friends. The jurors then deliberated over how much to award in punishment damages.
Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier (left), said that Johnson & Johnson knew asbestos was in their products.
"Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process". She said she used Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder regularly, even up until the day she went in for cancer surgery.
As per the report, the company released a statement saying it is confident that its products do not contain asbestos and hence does not contribute to ovarian cancer in any way.
The plaintiffs argued that Johnson & Johnson covered up knowledge of asbestos in its talcum powder products for some 40 years instead of including that information on a warning label.
Five previous cases have been decided and Johnson & Johnson has appealed those that it lost.
The plaintiffs said using the talc for personal hygiene had caused ovarian cancer. Bicks asked. "Does that make common sense, when Johnson & Johnson is doing all this testing?" Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and has fought them all in appeal.
Pharmaceutical companies use talc to produce talcum powder, among other 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". Johnson & Johnson is now battling around 9000 talc cases. "But sympathy aside, the plaintiffs have not come anywhere close to proving their case". The other two are on appeal, facing the same challenges from J&J.
The case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, 1522-CC10417, Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, Missouri. It did not find asbestos in any of them.