Johnson & Johnson baby powder on a store shelf. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who argued that using the powder contributed to their ovarian cancer, reports CNN.

The big picture: The women were the first to successfully argue that talcum powder contained asbestos and won the case leading to the largest verdict against the company to date.

The backdrop: Concerns behind talc's link to cancer first surfaced in 1971 and still persist today.

  • A judge overturned two rulings in 2017 in favor of plaintiffs against Johnson & Johnson where the company's powder product was accused of causing cancer.
  • Another California judge ruled in favor of the company when a woman linked her mesothelioma cancer to their talcum powder products.

The most recent verdict against the company marks a shift in the thinking behind talc and its alleged link to cancer.

What they're saying: Mark Lanier, the lawyer for the women in the case, accused Johnson & Johnson of covering up the link between cancer and talc for years. The link between talc and cancer has been debated for years with varying opinions on it.

The bottom line: The verdict in the latest landmark case against Johnson & Johnson may set a precedent for future cases and research in determining whether talc cancerous.

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Why it matters: It's the first and only fully FDA-approved drug in the U.S. for treating the coronavirus.

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