After thousands of lawsuits put Johnson & Johnson under the spotlight, the healthcare product giant is discontinuing the sales of its talcum-based baby powder. By next year, consumers around the world will no longer have access to the same talc-based product. Instead, the firm plans to modify its baby powder by replacing talcum with cornstarch.
In the lawsuits involving the talcum-based product, consumers alleged that the company was willingly selling powder that contained traces of asbestos. As a result, users alleged they were being diagnosed with cancer. Despite the claims, the company continued to defend its products, as highlighted by Best Lawyers, maintaining that there are no links between talcum and the cases of cancer.
Plaintiffs Accuse Company Of “Evading Liability”
After being sued by nearly 40,000 cancer patients, Johnson and Johnson transferred the baby powder liability cases to its subsidiary firm LTL, which eventually filed for bankruptcy. This maneuver was criticized by members of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia who claimed that the company was gaining “a litigation advantage” over the patients.
The nearly 40,000 lawsuits filed against the company were mostly filed by women who claim that the talc-based powder was behind their mesothelioma or ovarian cancers.
According to the attorney representing more than 38,000 ovarian cancer victims, Johnson and Johnson’s strategy has not changed his clients’ goals.
“We will continue to fight as J&J attempts to avoid accountability to cancer victims through a fraudulent misuse of the U.S. Bankruptcy code,” the attorney said.
“In one of the worst cases of corporate wrongdoing, J&J knew for decades that its Johnson’s Baby Powder contained asbestos and may cause deadly cancers like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. For over half a century, they sold and marketed it anyway.”
Future Remains Uncertain
As thousands of plaintiffs wait for their cases to be heard in court, news outlets report that talc-based products account for a major portion of Johnson and Johnson’s legal headaches despite making up a tiny sliver of the company’s sales.
After being ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 plaintiffs in 2018, the firm could be faced with a much larger fine in the near future.