Pharmaceutical and consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson has stated in a recent report filed with the SEC that it has set aside $3.9 billion, which is “primarily associated with talc related reserves and certain settlements” (1). The reserve, which is substantially higher than the $400 million earmarked for similar expenses in 2019, appears necessary as the company seeks to resolve the over 25,000 lawsuits currently pending against it in federal court.
Talc-related litigation not new to J&J
In 2018, a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages to a group of 22 women over claims that asbestos in the company’s talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
Mark Lanier, an attorney for the group of women in the case, added, “for over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products. We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer” (2). The verdict, which was the largest for Johnson & Johnson in an asbestos-related talc case, was later reduced by the Missouri Court of Appeals to $2.1 billion.
Scrutiny over Johnson & Johnson’s talc products began to build as information was revealed in December 2018 that alleged the company knew for decades that their products contained traces of asbestos. The report, issued by Reuters, was based on thousands of pages of company memos and internal reports and documents. There was also evidence that Johnson & Johnson allegedly attempted to cover up information about the risk.
In 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder out of “an abundance of caution.” The company also announced in May 2020 its discontinuation of talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada, citing a decline in consumer demand and “misinformation about the safety of the products (3).
We’re here to help
If you or a loved one used talcum powder and has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, we’re here to help. We invite you to join the community of women (and their families) who are holding Johnson & Johnson accountable by asserting your claim. We’d be honored to speak with you.
Click HERE for a free and no-obligation review of your case. You may be entitled to substantial damages without ever going to court. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.