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Johnson & Johnson to pay $8.9 billion to settle claims baby powder, other talc products caused cancer

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Johnson & Johnson announced Tuesday that the company has agreed to pay $8.9 billion over 25 years to settle “all current and future” claims that the company’s baby powder and other cosmetic talcum products allegedly caused cancer.

The company announced in the securities filing that its subsidiary LTL Management, Inc. will file for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy to resolve the allegations. The filing is not an admission of wrongdoing, and the company maintains its position that its talcum powder products are safe, according to the release.

Johnson & Johnson and its other affiliates have not filed for bankruptcy protection and will continue to operate their businesses as usual, the release added.

Jeff Chiu/AP, FILE

In this April 15, 2011, file photo, a bottle of Johnson’s baby powder is shown in San Francisco.

“The company continues to believe that these claims are uncertain and lack scientific merit,” Erik Haas, Johnson & Johnson vice president of litigation, said in part in a statement. “However, as the bankruptcy court recognized, resolving these cases in the tort system would take decades and impose significant costs on [the company] and the system, with most claimants never receiving any compensation.”

The announcement comes months after a federal appeals court ruled in January that the company could not use bankruptcy rights to settle about 38,000 lawsuits that alleged the talc in its products caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, ABC News reported. At the time, the company said it planned to challenge the ruling.

Critics had urged the court to reject the legal maneuver, fearing it could prompt other large companies to avoid bringing mass tort suits before juries.

In 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled a shipment of baby powder when a sample tested positive for a trace amount of asbestos, according to an advisory from the US Food and Drug Administration. Sales of the talc-based product ended in North America the following year.

The company announced last year that it would stop using talc in its baby powder worldwide by 2023 and that the ingredient would be replaced with corn starch.

ABC News’ Aron Katersky and Max Zahn contributed to this report.

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