In order to settle the tens of thousands of lawsuits Johnson & Johnson is facing in North America, which allege that its baby powder and other talc-based products cause cancer, the company has offered to pay close to $9 billion.
The healthcare behemoth declared it continued to view the allegations as “specious,” but hoped the new settlement offer would help put an end to its legal dispute.
The amount is a significant increase from the $2 billion it originally suggested.
Those connected to the case, it claimed, have expressed strong support for the new offer.
The business is dealing with more than 40,000 lawsuits from former clients who claim using its talc-based baby powder caused cancer, some of whom claim the product contained asbestos, which is known to cause cancer.
In 2020, it ceased selling its talc-based baby powder in the US, blaming “misinformation” for lowering demand for the item, which was used to prevent diaper rash and for other cosmetic purposes, such as dry shampoo. It made plans to end sales globally last year.
The business had been selling the baby powder for nearly 130 years prior to that choice. It still offers a cornstarch-containing version of the product for sale.
Since establishing a subsidiary in charge of the claims in 2021, the company has been attempting to settle the lawsuits in bankruptcy court.
However, it encountered difficulties when a bankruptcy court decision earlier found that the subsidiary was not in financial distress and could not settle the lawsuits through the bankruptcy system.
Erik Haas, worldwide vice president of litigation for Johnson & Johnson, stated that the company “continues to believe that these claims are speculative and lacking in scientific merit.”
However, he noted that “resolving these cases through the tort system would take decades and impose significant costs on LTL and the system, with the majority claimants never receiving any compensation.”
“Resolving this matter through the proposed reorganisation plan is both more equitable and efficient, enables claimants to be compensated promptly, and enables the company to remain focused on our commitment to profoundly and positively impact health for humanity,” the company said.
In the talc lawsuits it faced, Johnson & Johnson claimed that it had prevailed in most of them. However, it has been saddled with some hefty setbacks, such as one decision where 22 women received judgments totaling more than $2 billion.
According to Johnson & Johnson, approximately 60,000 current claimants have agreed to support the revised settlement terms.