A US court has ordered the Johnson & Johnson cosmetics firm to pay out $4.69 billion in damages to women who claim using their talc gave them cancer. The firm denies the women's claims that the talc contains asbestos.
A Missouri jury awarded a record $4.69 billion (€4.03 billion) to 22 women and families in a lawsuit against US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson on Thursday. According to the plaintiffs, the company's talcum powder contains dangerous asbestos that caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Six of the women named in the lawsuit have died of cancer.
"For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products," the victims' lawyer Mark Lanier said in a statement.
"The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease," he added.
The US-based firm is currently battling over 9,000 cases over their mineral talc, which is the primary ingredient in Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. According to medical experts appearing during the six-week trial in Missouri, the carcinogen asbestos naturally occurs and intermingles with the talc in the ground.
Johnson & Johnson 'deeply disappointed'
However, Johnson & Johnson claims their testing and purification processes ensure their products are clean and safe to use. A 2009-2010 testing by the US Food and Drug Administration also found no trace of asbestos.
Read more: The dirty dozen and other deadly chemicals
Commenting on the latest ruling, the US-based firm said it was "deeply disappointed" and described the trial as a "fundamentally unfair process."
"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.
The company has managed to overturn similar verdicts in the past, including a $417 million verdict by a California jury in 2017.
dj/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)