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Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.69bn (£3.6bn) to 22 women who alleged the pharmaceutical company's talc products contain asbestos that caused cancer.

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

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

The company now faces about 9,000 talc-cancer cases in state and federal court, according to published reports, with the bulk of state court cases in Missouri, New Jersey, and California, according to J&J's May 2018 quarterly report.

'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.

"American studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk", the organization says. Her cancer is now in remission after months of "brutal" chemotherapy.

Johnson & Johnson, which has successfully appealed a number of talc cases, said in its statement Thursday that "the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed". Six have died from ovarian cancer, and several have spouses with additional claims.

A previous ruling in 2017 by a California jury awarded $417m but that was later overturned on appeal. A jury found Johnson & Johnson negligent but did not award damages to the plaintiff.

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"The evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding", the company said in a statement.

J&J says there is no asbestos in its baby powder and other talc-based products, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a survey in 2009 and 2010 that seemed to back this up. The International Agency for Cancer Research termed this process "possibly carcinogenic" as there were no concrete evidence of ovarian cancer due to talcum powder on the genitals. A SC jury couldn't reach a verdict on similar claims in the same week as the California verdict.

Their lawsuit claimed the asbestos in the product contributed to the women's ovarian cancer.

The punitive part of the St. Louis verdict may be particularly vulnerable to post-trial challenges or appeals.

Punitive damages are additional punishments levied against a defendant to prevent similar actions in the future. The U.S. Supreme Court has said such punishment awards must be proportional to compensatory damage verdicts that underlie them. In other cases, the justices have upheld a punishment award four times larger than compensatory damages. Bloomberg reported that the award was the sixth-largest products liability award in USA history.

The $4.69 billion award is the largest jury award in the United States this year, Bloomberg reported. "J&J has a good shot at knocking it down".

Punitive damages are still to be decided for the 22 plaintiffs in a case that began June 4 in St Louis Circuit Court.


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