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The Baby Powder Scandal That Johnson & Johnson Wants to Bury

Baby powder- Johnson & Johnson - El American

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Johnson & Johnson recently announced that it will stop producing and selling talc-based baby powder globally in 2023, after halting United States and Canada sales two years ago. The company has faced almost 38,000 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that they developed ovarian cancer after using the product. 

Although Johnson & Johnson continues to assert that its product is safe, labeling allegations “misinformation,” the company decided to discontinue all talc-based powder worldwide as part of a “global portfolio assessment.”

What’s behind Johnson & Johnson’s announcement?

Since the 1960s, scientific studies have identified a link between users of talcum-based powders and an increased incidence of ovarian cancer. In 2006, the World Health Organization classified genital talc as a possible carcinogen. 

A 2016 study of 2,041 women with ovarian cancer and 2,100 premenopausal and postmenopausal women under hormone therapy without ovarian cancer, showed an increased risk of ovarian cancer due to talcum powder use. In 2018, a Reuters investigation revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that traces of asbestos were present in some of its baby powder and was thus potentially carcinogenic. In 2019, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder product “as a precaution” after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found chrysotile asbestos fibers in a sample of the product. 

A handful of talcum powder companies added warning labels to their products—Johnson & Johnson did not. In 2018, a St. Louis jury returned a $4.7 billion verdict against the company, finding the company was negligent and failed to warn consumers about the potential health risks of its baby powder. A 2020 appellate court opinion upheld the verdict, finding that the plaintiffs “proved with convincing clarity that [Johnson & Johnson] engaged in outrageous conduct because of an evil motive or reckless indifference,” but adjusted damages to $2.1 billion. Johnson & Johnson petitioned the Supreme Courts of Missouri and the United States to overturn the verdict, to no avail.

“Studies suggest that talc-based products contain carcinogens, and their use increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs suing Johnson & Johnson allege that the company was aware of these risks. Although Johnson & Johnson continues to argue publicly that talc-based baby powder is safe, juries have disagreed and awarded billions of dollars in damages,” said John H. Ruiz, Founder and CEO of MSP Recovery, which powers LifeWallet, a consumer healthcare app.

To limit talc-related liability, Johnson & Johnson formed LTL Management, LLC to hold and manage current and future claims. That entity filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2021 and is forming a trust pursuant to bankruptcy law. The trust will be funded with $2 billion to resolve current and future talc-related claims. Certain royalty streams may increase potential recoveries for victims by an additional $350 million. For information about the claim submission process, visit www.ltlmanagementinformation.com.

Sabrina Martín Rondon is a Venezuelan journalist. Her source is politics and economics. She is a specialist in corporate communications and is committed to the task of dismantling the supposed benefits of socialism // Sabrina Martín Rondon es periodista venezolana. Su fuente es la política y economía. Es especialista en comunicaciones corporativas y se ha comprometido con la tarea de desmontar las supuestas bondades del socialismo