Drugs giant knew for decades their product could cause cancer but covered it up.
Johnson & Johnson is offering $8.9billion in damages to settle lawsuits alleging its talc-based baby powder caused cancer. The US firm has filed for bankruptcy for a second time and offered the settlement to the around 100,000 claimants seeking damages after suffering medical issues they have linked to the powder.
As part of the offer, the firm did not admit any wrongdoing and continues to say its talc-based powder is safe for use. Talc was a key ingredient in J&J's iconic baby powder. While the substance is a naturally occurring mineral, it is often found in the same mines as the carcinogen asbestos.
The powder has already been pulled from shelves in the US and Canada due to the fears and will be discontinued entirely this year. Many of the claimants say they have suffered from ovarian cancer or mesothelioma in cases they allege erupted from use of the product years ago.
'The Company continues to believe that these claims are specious and lack scientific merit,' Erik Haas, worldwide vice president of litigation at J&J, said in a statement.
The firm attempted to file for bankruptcy for its subsidiary LTL Management LLC, which it formed in 2021 in response to the growing lawsuits. Initially, the firm offered $2billion to settle cases with the claimants in LTL bankruptcy filings. Courts rejected the bid on Monday, declaring that neither J&J nor LTL were in a financial situation that made bankruptcy necessary.
On Tuesday, the firm upped its bid more than four-fold, pushing its offer to $8.9billion. The firm reports that 60,000 claimants have agreed to the settlement offer. If approved, these funds would be shared among those who are a part of the class action lawsuit.
In 2013 Johnson and Johnson were fined $2.2 Billion Dollars for making false claims about three other products as well as bribing doctors and health officials. Following a two year criminal investigation the drugs giant was prosecuted under the False Claims Act.
However, the drugs giant have said they will continue to fulfill their commitment to manufacturing their Covid-19 vaccines, another product they claim is 'safe and effective.'