The settlement is the first in four years of litigation and nearly 20,000 lawsuits that allege Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and talc products caused cancer due to asbestos contamination, according to the report.
Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder products in October, 2019, “out of an abundance of caution” after trace amounts of asbestos were found.
Later that month, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky reportedly said “we unequivocally believe that our talc and our baby powder does not contain asbestos,” 13 days before the Food and Drug Administration claimed to have found trace levels of asbestos in a bottle of the product.
In May, 2019, the company stopped selling talc-based baby powder in North America, which it has always insisted is safe, “due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” and instead began selling cornstarch-based baby powder.
This is the first time Johnson & Johnson has settled the bulk of a plaintiff’s lawyer cases in talc contamination suits, as opposed to settling individual suits right before trial.