Johnson & Johnson has created a subsidiary to handle thousands of legal claims alleging that its talcum powder caused cancer and placed it in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in a move that critics say is intended to limit future payments.
The New Jersey-based drugmaker said Thursday that the filing by its subsidiary, LTL Management, was intended to “resolve all claims related to cosmetic talc in a manner that is fair to all parties, including claimants. current and future “.
Legal experts said the move could potentially suspend pending cases and pressure cancer patients to agree to settlements.
“[This] The legal strategy is a deliberate attempt to suspend cases across the country and limit J & J’s final payment to people suffering from cancer as a result of using J & J’s baby powder products that contained asbestos, ”said Mark Bratt. , Weitz’s attorney. And Luxenberg.
“It is an absolute judicial error,” added the attorney, who has represented litigants in J&J talc cases.
J&J said it would establish a $ 2 billion trust to facilitate efficient claims resolution and had also allocated royalty streams worth more than $ 350 million to further contribute to potential costs.
“We are taking these steps to provide certainty to all parties involved in cosmetic talc cases,” said Michael Ullmann, J&J executive vice president and general counsel.
“While we continue to strongly support the safety of our talc cosmetic products, we believe that resolving this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible is in the best interest of the company and all stakeholders,” he said.
J&J faces tens of thousands of legal cases from people alleging that its cosmetic powder caused cancer. It has already lost several major cases, including a $ 4.7 billion in damages awarded by a Missouri court to 22 women who blamed asbestos in the drugmaker’s baby powder for their ovarian cancer.
In June, the Supreme Court refused to review the case, in which damages had already been reduced to $ 2.1 billion.
J&J said its actions were not a concession of liability and that it had won the majority of cosmetic powder jury trials litigated to date.
Last year, the company said it would stop selling its baby powder in the United States and Canada after sales fell 60 percent in three years.
Talcum powder is made from the mineral talc, which in its natural form contains asbestos, a substance that can cause cancer. The healthcare industry agreed in 1976 to ensure that all talc products do not contain detectable levels of asbestos.