Business & Finance

Johnson & Johnson Proposes $8.9 Billion Settlement to Resolve Talcum Powder Claims

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After years of litigation, Johnson & Johnson announced on Tuesday that it will offer a total of $8.9 billion to settle tens of thousands of claims that its talcum powder-based baby powder products have caused cancer. This settlement will be paid over 25 years through a subsidiary, LTL Management, which has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey.

The company insists that its talcum-based products such as baby powder are entirely safe, and the settlement aims to “resolve all the current and future talc claims.” Some of the claimants have agreed to the settlement, while others have found it inadequate due to the considerable number of payouts and the potential legal delays from the bankruptcy filing.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), research on the connection between talcum powder products and ovarian cancer is still uncertain. While some experiments have suggested that talc is related to ovarian cancer, others have found no association. Thus, no regulatory agency has verified talc-based products as a risk factor for this type of cancer. Yet, evidence shows that talcum powder contains asbestos in a natural state, which is a confirmed carcinogenic substance.

Since the lawsuit was first filed in 2013, Johnson & Johnson has been fighting relentlessly in court. The company has denied recurring allegations that its baby powder products’ composition triggered the asbestos fibers to enter into the lungs and ovaries of consumers, leading to cancer. More than 20,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson over the years.

This landmark announcement is the largest settlement payout Johnson & Johnson has ever had to pay. The settlement will cover other claims filed under similar circumstances, not only those linked to ovarian cancer.

The global healthcare conglomerate had reported a decline in the consumer demand for talc products, and last year, it announced that it would discontinue the sale of talcum powder in the United States and Canada. However, the company has not revealed any plans to terminate the production of talc-based products entirely.

Furthermore, Johnson & Johnson face the unexpected challenge of an ongoing pandemic and a potential lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department against the company’s role in the opioid epidemic case. The company’s major acquisition in the pharmaceutical sector and the development of a vaccine to combat COVID-19 face significant delays and uncertainties.

In summary, Johnson & Johnson’s decision to offer a settlement in a significant legal battle regarding its talcum powder-based baby powder products has finally come to a close after years of litigation. While it is uncertain whether talc-based products are directly linked to ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson has voluntarily backed down from using talc in its baby powder and is now facing other significant legal challenges in the same way as this latest case.

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