Johnson & Johnson has socked away $3.9 billion to help cover the costs of thousands of lawsuits it’s facing over accusations that its baby powder is laced with asbestos.
The pharmaceutical giant revealed its 2020 litigation expenses in a Monday regulatory filing, saying the money was “primarily associated with talc related reserves and certain settlements.”
Some 25,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson related to its talc-based baby powder, according to the filing, many of whom claim they got cancer after using the product.
The New Jersey-based company has faced baby powder safety concerns since a 2018 Reuters investigation found it knew for decades that asbestos — a toxic substance that can cause cancer when inhaled — was mixed in with the talc.
A Missouri court ordered the company last year to pay about $2.1 billion in damages to 22 women who linked their ovarian cancer to its products in a case that J&J is appealing to the US Supreme Court.
“The company continues to believe that it has strong legal grounds for the appeal of this verdict, as well as other verdicts that it has appealed,” J&J said in the Monday filing.
A New York court in November awarded $120 million to a Brooklyn woman who got cancer that she blamed on asbestos exposure from using J&J’s baby powder.
The company announced last May that it would stop selling its iconic talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the US and Canada. J&J attributed the decision to changing consumer habits as well as “misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
With Post wires