- J&J is making yet another offer to close the 38,000 lawsuits it faces
- The firm’s bid of $2billion to settle the cases was rejected on Monday by courts.
Embattled big pharma company Johnson & Johnson is offering $8.9billion in damages to settle lawsuits alleging its talc-based baby powder caused cancer.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based firm has filed for bankruptcy for a second time and offered the settlement to the around 100,000 claimants seeking damages after suffering medical issues they have linked to the powder.
As part of the offer, the firm did not admit any wrongdoing and continues to say its talc-based powder is safe for use.
Talc was a key ingredient in J&J’s iconic baby powder. While the substance is a naturally occurring mineral, it is often found in the same mines as the carcinogen asbestos.
J&J is offering $8.9billion to settle 38,000 cases linking its talc-based baby powder to cancer through one of its subsidiary companies, LTL (file photo).
The powder has already been pulled from shelves in the US and Canada due to the fears and will be discontinued entirely this year.
Many of the claimants say they have suffered from ovarian cancer or mesothelioma in cases they allege erupted from use of the product years ago.
‘The Company continues to believe that these claims are specious and lack scientific merit,’ Erik Haas, worldwide vice president of litigation at J&J, said in a statement.
The firm attempted to file for bankruptcy for its subsidiary LTL Management LLC, which it formed in 2021 in response to the growing lawsuits.
Initially, the firm offered $2billion to settle cases with the claimants in LTL bankruptcy filings.
Courts rejected the bid on Monday, declaring that neither J&J nor LTL were in a financial situation that made bankruptcy necessary.
On Tuesday, the firm upped its bid more than four-fold, pushing its offer to $8.9billion. The firm reports that 60,000 claimants have agreed to the settlement offer.
If approved, these funds would be shared among those who are a part of the class action lawsuit.
‘Resolving these cases in the tort system would take decades and impose significant costs on LTL and the system, with most claimants never receiving any compensation,’ Mr Haas said.
He added: ‘Resolving this matter through the proposed reorganization plan is both more equitable and more efficient, allows claimants to be compensated in a timely manner, and enables the Company to remain focused on our commitment to profoundly and positively impact health for humanity.’
J&J’s baby powder products were first recalled in October 2019 when a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) probe found trace amounts of asbestos in a bottle.
Inhaling or exposing skin to asbestos can cause a variety of issues for a person.
It is near impossible to separate trace amounts of asbestos from talc.
Over time, small amounts of asbestos exposure can build to cause significant health issues for a person.
Mesothelioma, a cancerous tumor that can form on the outside of a person’s lungs, heart and other organs, is most commonly associated with the mineral.
If the powder is used for vaginal care, as many women did in decades past, it can cause cervical or ovarian cancer.
A 1971 study found that 75 percent of ovarian cancer tumors had talc particles within them.
Between 1989 and 2004, an additional 16 studies from across the world linked talc powder use to the development of ovarian cancer.
In the time since the 2019 FDA inspection, it has been revealed that some executives at the company were aware of the potential asbestos risk decades prior.
While J&J has continued to claim its baby powder is safe, scores of Americans who have suffered health problems after using it have joined lawsuits against the firm.
In total, 38,000 lawsuits have been filed. To avoid facing penalty, J&J formed LTL Management, a company that held all of the liabilities related to the thousands of lawsuits the company faced.
That company then filed for bankruptcy in Texas, attempting to take advantage of the state’s business-friendly laws to include the settled suits in the filings.
But, in April of last year Federal Judge Michael Kaplan dismissed the bankruptcy filing.
In a second effort, J&J filed for bankruptcy once more in October, offering $2billion to settle the cases.
Courts rejected that claim this week. J&J has quickly offered another bid to settle the matter.
It has already paid out millions in settlements, paying $200million to settle three lawsuits in St Louis, Missouri, in 2016 and $100million to close 1,000 cases in 2021.
A court ruled against the firm for $417million in 2017 and another $2.1billion in 2021. The verdict in the latter case was appealed and later upheld.