Healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson has lost its motion to reverse a verdict that awarded $4.7 billion to women who blamed ovarian cancer on asbestos in the company's Baby Powder and other talc products, a Missouri court ruled on Wednesday.


Meanwhile, drug inspectors have seized samples of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder from a factory in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, an industry source said on Wednesday, following a Reuters report that the firm knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos lurked in the product.


The person, who was not authorised to speak with media and so declined to be identified, said the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) took samples from the firm's Baddi plant in Himachal Pradesh state late on Tuesday.


Surendranath Sai, a regional drug officer in the southern state of Telangana, on Wednesday said he had instructed inspectors to seize samples there.


"On the basis of the news report, we are alerting staff to pick up samples. We will test them in a drug control lab here," said Sai. "We will take action accordingly. Certainly we are worried because millions of babies may be affected."


Earlier, the Times of India quoted an official source as saying 100 drug inspectors had been assigned to examine different manufacturing facilities, wholesalers and distributors linked to J&J India, starting early on Wednesday.


A health ministry spokeswoman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, however a senior official at the ministry said the report was worrying.


"We are concerned about it and will take action," the official told Reuters, declining to be identified citing the sensitivity of the matter. The official did not elaborate on what kind of action.


Johnson and Johnson said on Wednesday that Indian drugs authorities visited some of its facilities and it provided them with "tests and samples" of its talcum powder.


The visits come as the regulators in India launch an investigation into the company's Baby Powder following a Reuters report last Friday that the firm knew for decades that cancer-causing asbestos lurked in the product.


The company told Reuters in a statement that the facilities were visited by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and some state-based food and drug administrations (FDAs).


On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said the Reuters article, published on Friday, was "one-sided, false and inflammatory".


"Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder is safe and asbestos free," the U.S. company said. "Studies of more than 100,000 men and women show that talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease. Thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world's leading labs prove our Baby Powder has never contained asbestos."