Johnson & Johnson has proposed an $8.9 billion settlement to resolve all current and future claims against the pharmaceutical giant’s products containing talc. The most recent development in the years-long controversy could finally put an end to tens of thousands of legal claims from people who say the company’s talcum powder products caused their cancer.
In order for the proposed settlement to be put into action, a bankruptcy court needs to approve it. First, the court needs to accept a new bankruptcy filing with the proposed settlement by LTL Management, which is the subsidiary company J&J formed to relieve itself from talc litigation. LTL Management originally set aside $2 billion for settlements but was rejected by A U.S. federal appeals court. Now, the corporation has agreed to contribute an additional $6.9 billion to the settlement funds.
Aside from filing with the courts, Johnson & Johnson’s proposal needs approval from more than half of the claimants. According to the New York Times, some of the lawyers representing the nearly 70,000 victims called the proposal a “landmark” and a “significant victory for the tens and thousands of women suffering from gynecological cancers caused by J&J products.”
However, one lawyer representing approximately 10,000 claimants isn’t as pleased with the proposal, telling the New York Times, “Even though $8.9 billion sounds like a lot of money, when you spread it out, it comes out to not very much at all for people who suffered.”
If the court approves the settlement plan, the nearly $9 billion payout would be distributed over 25 years through LTL Management. Considering the large dollar amount with the tens of thousands of current claimants, the settlement would pay out less than $120,000 per case, which doesn’t even begin to cover medical expenses and lost wages for victims.
The proposal may not be received as well as the corporation intended, which means the Johnson & Johnson controversy is far from over.
Details of Johnson & Johnson’s History with Talc and Asbestos
Johnson & Johnson is a household name across the world. The company has produced and distributed health and hygiene products for more than 135 years. Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was one of the most well-known and most used products for decades. The corporation created the product with talc, a naturally occurring mineral which forms near asbestos.
Unbeknownst to consumers, there was evidence as early as the 1950s of asbestos in some J&J baby powder samples. Johnson & Johnson did not report these findings to the proper agencies or the public, nor did they report the “rather high levels of asbestos” found during the 1970s.
The very first asbestos claim against Johnson & Johnson came from a Texas woman in 1999, but J&J denied the allegations, which resulted in the lawsuit being dropped. Almost two decades later, more information was revealed to the public, and Johnson & Johnson was slammed with asbestos lawsuits.
Following the onslaught of the lawsuits, Reuters released an article in 2018 completely exposing everything Johnson & Johnson had done, resulting in more lawsuits against the company. Reuters’ article contained extreme allegations against J&J, forcing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate. The investigation led the FDA to find traces of asbestos in J&J’s baby powder.
This was a major setback for Johnson & Johnson, as it was the first time FDA testing discovered traces of asbestos. This discovery led to the recall of 33,000 bottles of baby powder. In 2022, J&J finally announced it would discontinue the company’s infamous baby powder and would no longer produce or distribute the original formula. Johnson & Johnson announced a new brand of baby powder, which would use cornstarch instead of talc.
Johnson & Johnson’s asbestos in talc controversy has been exactly that – controversial. The corporation hoped the decades-long saga would finally come to an end by offering a large sum of money. However, in order to pass the proposed settlement, Johnson & Johnson will need a lot of support from its victims, which could be complicated. Hopefully, with the new baby powder, there is no room for contamination or cancer-causing ingredients.
- Johnson & Johnson Reaches Deal for $8.9 Billion Talc Settlement. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/04/business/media/johnson-johnson-talc-settlement.html. Accessed: 04/05/2023.
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