On Thursday (July 12th, 2018) US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay out $4.69 billion in damages in a lawsuit in St Louis Circuit Court, representing 22 women and their families who alleged a talc sold by the company contained asbestos and caused them to suffer cancer.
In the trial, the medical experts have testified that asbestos, a known carcinogen, is intermingled with mineral talc, which is the primary ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower products.
The lead counsel for the plaintiff, Mark Lanier, said in a statement that the company had covered up evidence of asbestos in its products for more than 40 years.
Pieces of evidences were presented in the court showing the presence of asbestos fibres and talc particles in the ovarian tissues of many of the women.
Plaintiff’s counsel claimed that the Johnson & Johnson knew its products contained asbestos and still didn’t warn its consumers.
“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,” Mr. Lanier said.
Further, Mr. Lanier said that “the company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease.”
The company calling the verdict as unfair said that it would appeal against it in the higher court.
Company’s spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said that “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.”
Further, she said that the verdict awarding all the women the same amount, despite differences in their circumstances, showed evidence in the case was overwhelmed by prejudice created when so many plaintiffs are allowed to sue the company in one lawsuit.
The company has been sued by over 9,000 women who claimed that the talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.
Six of the 22 plaintiffs in the latest trial have died from ovarian cancer.