Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a jury in California to pay $417 million to a woman who claims to have developed ovarian cancer from regular use of its talc-based products.

The company is reportedly now facing more than 5,000 cases across the US which argue that the healthcare giant failed to warn consumers of the cancer risk posed by its talc-based products, a claim which it strongly denies.

According to reports last year, an internal memo from September 1997 showed a J&J medical consultant suggesting that "anybody who denies (the) risks" between "hygeinic" talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: "denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary”.

However, in a statement, J&J noted that the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Editorial Board recently wrote that “the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer,” and stressed that it would “continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

The company also said it it will appeal the verdict “because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

According to media reports, J&J has lost four of five previous cases tried in the state of Missouri, costing the firm more than $307 million in penalties.