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Johnson & Johnson loses US cancer case

Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay a record $US4.69 billion ($A6.34 billion) to 22 women in the United States who alleged the company's talc-based products contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

A Missouri jury found in favour of the women in the Circuit Court of the City of St Louis on Thursday.

The verdict is the largest the company has faced to date over allegations that its products, including baby powder, cause cancer. Johnson & Johnson is currently battling around 9000 talc cases.

The payout comprises $US550 million in compensatory damages and $US4.14 billion in punitive damages.

The jury's decision came after more than five weeks of testimony by nearly a dozen experts on both sides, according to an online broadcast of the trial by Courtroom View Network.

The women and their families said decades-long use of baby powder and other cosmetic talc products caused their diseases. They allege the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos since at least the 1970s but failed to warn consumers about the risks.

Johnson & Johnson denied that its talc products cause cancer and that they ever contained asbestos. It says decades of studies show its talc to be safe.

The company did not immediately provide a statement on the total damages award, but earlier said it was disappointed with the jury's decision finding the company liable.

© RAW 2018