Johnson & Johnson (J&J) agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle more than 1,000 lawsuits blaming the pharmaceutical giant for producing a baby powder that repeatedly caused cancer. This is the first set of settlements to be resolved after four years of litigation. Thousands of lawsuits remain unresolved.
According to Bloomberg, on Monday morning, Oct. 5, J&J agreed with a large group of lawyers to resolve a thousand lawsuits with the payment of $100 million, thus avoiding the instance of judicial sentence.
However, the headaches for the largest manufacturer of health care products do not end here, since according to reports there are still more than 20,000 lawsuits from consumers who claim that their talcum powder products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos, a recognized carcinogen.
Despite having agreed to pay, the firm defends that its talc is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.
“In certain circumstances, we choose to settle claims, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products,” the company said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Attorney Mark Lanier won a $4.7 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson in 2018, which was later reduced to $2.1 billion on appeal. Lanier in his defense argued that J&J officials knew that internal evidence showed that the talc contained asbestos but for more than 40 years that the product has been on the shelves it was not revealed.
Bloomberg Intelligence estimated in July that solving all pending cases could cost J&J up to $10 billion.
In October 2019, J&J announced from its official website the recall of a single batch of its baby powder. The announcement warned that the recall was voluntary and that the company was acting with “an abundance of precautions.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. announced that it is initiating a voluntary recall in the United States of a single lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) test indicating the presence of sub-trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination,” the company’s announcement said.
According to Bloomberg, in view of the conflicts it had to face during the few last years, J&J decided this year to change its talc formula for a cornstarch product in the North American markets.