Global healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is set to pay more than $100 Million to over 1,000 U.S. victims who allege asbestos contamination in the company’s baby powder caused the development of their cancer.
After 4 years of ongoing litigation, the settlement is the first of what many presume will be a series of talcum powder settlements between the company and its alleged victims.
The $100 Million agreement was reached in partnership with several law firms representing the cancer victims and their families.
Despite its agreement to settle over 1,000 cases, J&J still faces an additional 20,000 talcum powder lawsuits in the United States alone.
Is J&J’s Talcum Powder Dangerous?
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-March, when courts were still functioning at full capacity, J&J went to trial before a jury to defend Johnson’s® Baby Powder, the company’s signature talc-based product.
The jury reviewed evidence to determine whether the company’s baby powder was in fact contaminated by asbestos — a mineral that is a known carcinogen and the only cause of the cancer known as mesothelioma.
In that trial, the jury found J&J knew its talc products contained trace amounts of asbestos but hid the information from consumers. As a result, $9 Million was awarded to an 82-year-old mesothelioma survivor.
Earlier, in Oct. 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detected asbestos in several batches of Johnson’s Baby Powder. Though J&J disputed the positive tests, the FDA maintained their analysis was correct. In response to the FDA’s findings, J&J voluntarily recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder “out of an abundance of caution.”
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, J&J continues to maintain its stance that its products are completely safe for use. This argument, however, seems to be contradicted by the fact that in May 2020, J&J made the decision to discontinue talc-based baby powder sales in the United States, opting instead for a safer alternative: cornstarch.
J&J: $100M Settlement Not an ‘Admission of Liability’
After the announcement of the $100 Million settlement, J&J Spokesperson Kim Montagnino reiterated the statement J&J has echoed throughout the last 4 years of ongoing litigation:
“In certain circumstances, we do choose to settle lawsuits, which is done without an admission of liability and in no way changes our position regarding the safety of our products. Our talc is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”
Later this month, on Oct. 13, a new trial will begin concerning the health of factory workers who allegedly developed mesothelioma as a result of working hands-on with Johnson’s talc-based baby powder.