Johnson And Johnson Ordered To Pay $29 Million In Talc Cancer Trial

A container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson

A container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

A United States jury on Wednesday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million (Rs 202 crore) to a woman diagnosed with cancer, who alleged that the asbestos in the firm's talcum-powder-based products caused her disease, Reuters reported.

A Superior Court jury in Oakland, California on Thursday (NZ time) found the world's largest health care company mainly liable for Teresa Leavitt's mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement provided to TIME that it plans to appeal the decision, citing "serious procedural and evidentiary errors". The company did not provide further details of the alleged errors. In December past year, the company reiterated the safety of its products as a slew of drug regulators around the world such as the US FDA and India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) analysed samples of J&J products.

Johnson & Johnson says tests by regulators worldwide have shown that its talc is safe and asbestos-free.

Leavitt's is the first case to go to trial since a December Reuters report based on internal documents confirmed Johnson & Johnson was aware the talc in its products sometimes contained asbestos from the 1970s up until the early 2000s, but failed to inform consumers or regulators of that fact. The nine-week trial began on January 7 and included testimony from almost a dozen experts on both sides.

The jury deliberated for two days before delivering its verdict.

The company has insisted that its talc-based products are demonstrably safe. The jury declined to award punitive damages.

"Yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos", said Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt, in a statement on Wednesday.

Leavitt's trial originally included Johnson & Johnson talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, a unit of Imerys SE, as a co-defendant.

Despite that the company has lost court cases.

In July previous year, J&J was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 ovarian cancer patients by a court in the USA state of Missouri. Johnson & Johnson also won three cases, while five led to hung juries.

Similarly, J&J is expected to appeal the latest verdict.

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