Johnson & Johnson vows to appeal $4.7 billion talcum products verdict

Johnson & Johnson must shell out $4.7B after baby powder tainted with asbestos blamed for causing cancer

Shares of Johnson & Johnson were sliding Friday morning, down 2.68%, the day after a St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to the 22 women who said its talcum baby powder gave them ovarian cancer.

Asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women, the plaintiffs' lawyers said. The asbestos cases are part of more than 9,000 claims alleging that J&J's talc products cause cancer. It said it meant to appeal.

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.

"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", J&J added, saying that it would pursue all available appellate remedies.

J&J dropped 1.4 per cent in late trading after closing at US$127.76 in NY.

A jury has issued Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.69 billion in a talcum powder lawsuit Thursday. "It's for women to find out what was in talc".

The defense contended that claims linking asbestos to J&J's talc-based products was a lawyer-driven argument that lacked strong scientific support and that the women developed ovarian cancer for other reasons.

The company "rigged" tests to avoid showing the presence of asbestos, Lanier said.

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But Lanier during the trial told jurors that the agency and other laboratories and J&J have used flawed testing methods that did not allow for the proper detection of asbestos fibers. The woman, Deane Berg also said that the company offered her a settlement of $1.3 million that she turned down. "Then someone at J&J decides to expose babies to asbestos? Why all the testing?" However, some talc are contaminated with a form of asbestos called tremolite.

Talc, the world's softest rock, is a mineral closely linked to asbestos and the two substances can appear in close proximity in the earth.

United Kingdom-based cancer charity Ovacome has said that there have been concerns for some years that using talcum powder on the genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, but says this has not been proven by research. She even wrote a book to help others going through an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Her cancer is now in remission after months of "brutal" chemotherapy. "None of the treatments are working for me", she said.

After the punitive damages were announced, plaintiffs, their family members and their lawyers gathered around the jurors, hugging them and thanking them. It says decades of studies show its talc to be safe and has successfully overturned previous talc verdicts on technical legal grounds. Johnson & Johnson sold the product to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International in 2012. Valeant now faces suits over the body powder.

The women in the St Louis trial, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job retraining programme, come from states across the country, including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY. Six of the women have died, so their families are pressing wrongful-death claims against Johnson & Johnson.

Listening to the plaintiffs' accounts of their cancers was "gut-wrenching, " Bicks told jurors Wednesday.

It is highly unlikely the plaintiffs will keep an amount anywhere close to judgment award. But this one is a really big one.

A state trial court jury on Thursday handed up a $4.69 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson. A jury found Johnson & Johnson negligent but did not award damages to the plaintiff. A SC jury couldn't reach a verdict on similar claims in the same week as the California verdict.

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