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HEALTH

Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7bn damages in talc cancer case

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in damages to 22 women who alleged that its talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

A jury in the US state of Missouri initially awarded $550m in compensation and added $4.1bn in punitive damages.

The verdict comes as the pharmaceutical giant battles some 9,000 legal cases involving its signature baby powder.

J&J said it was “deeply disappointed” and plans to appeal.

In the six-week trial, the women and their families said they developed ovarian cancer after using baby powder and other talc products for decades.

Of the 22 women represented in this case, six have died from ovarian cancer.

Their lawyers alleged the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos since the 1970s but failed to warn consumers about the risks.

‘Unfair process’

Talc is a mineral and can sometimes be found in the ground in close proximity to asbestos.

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J&J denied that its products ever contained asbestos and insisted that they do not cause cancer.

The pharmaceutical giant added that several studies have shown its talc to be safe and said the verdict was a product of a “fundamentally unfair process”.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioned a study of a variety of talc samples, including J&J, from 2009 to 2010. It found no asbestos in any of them.

The prosecution lawyer told the Missouri court that the FDA and Johnson & Johnson had used flawed testing methods.

Source: www.bbc.com

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