Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.7 billion in lawsuit linking talcum powder to cancer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 13:  Containers of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson are displayed on a shelf on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. A Missouri jury has ordered pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson to pay $4.69 billion in damages to 22 women who claim that they got ovarian cancer from Johnson's baby powder.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 13: Containers of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson are displayed on a shelf on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. A Missouri jury has ordered pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson to pay $4.69 billion in damages to 22 women who claim that they got ovarian cancer from Johnson's baby powder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Credit: Justin Sullivan

A jury in St. Louis, Missouri, awarded 22 women and their families $4.7 billion in damages in a lawsuit that claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer, according to news outlets.

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After a six-week trial in St. Louis Circuit Court, a jury awarded the plaintiffs $550 million in compensatory damages and a $4.14 billion punitive award, The Associated Press reported.

The company issued a statement after the verdict saying it would appeal.

"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," spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said.

"Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed," Goodrich said, according to NPR.

The lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Mark Lanier, said Johnson & Johnson has used asbestos, a carcinogen, in their baby power and talc products for 40 years and covered it up, the AP reported.

Asbestos fibers and talc particles have been found in the ovarian tissue of many of the women in the suit, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

"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," Lanier said.

Lanier also urged Johnson & Johnson to pull its talc products from store shelves.

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More than 9,000 women have sued the company, contending Johnson & Johnson talcum power has contributed to their ovarian cancer, according to the AP. The company has repeatedly denied it.