A St. Louis jury on Thursday said Johnson & Johnson must pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who said asbestos in the company's talcum powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
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 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.
"For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products", the plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier said in a statement.
After the punitive damages were announced, plaintiffs, their family members and their lawyers gathered around the jurors, hugging them and thanking them. Lawyers allege asbestos fibers and talc particles had been found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women they represent.
The jury awarded the $550 million (around Rs 3,800 crore) to the petitioners, who had claimed that the asbestos found in the product was carcinogenic.
J&J said it was "deeply disappointed" and plans to appeal.
Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York October 15, 2015. However, the company said it will be appealing the result. The company has consistently denied that its products can be linked to the disease. Two of those plaintiffs' verdicts, one for $72 million and the other for $55 million, have been erased on appeal on jurisdictional grounds. The company said that several studies approved their talc as safe and that the verdict was the result of a "fundamentally unfair process" that allowed the women to be represented as a single plaintiff. The women in this case claim to have all used talc based powder for decades to keep their bodies smelling fresh and clean, particularly in their genital area.
The women who sued, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job-retraining program, come from states including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY.
Asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women, the plaintiffs said.
The company has had a better record with judges than juries in the ovarian cancer cases. Previous talc-cancer trials have focused on claims that the talc itself, rather than asbestos, causes ovarian cancer, or that asbestos in talc causes mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer.
J&J's statement reiterated its contention that its talc is asbestos-free and promised to challenge the decision.
The trial is one of many proceedings CVN has recorded in Missouri, California, and SC state courts as part of its extensive talc litigation coverage.