Everything You Need to Know About Johnson & Johnson's Baby-Powder Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson's talc-based baby powder is now discontinued, but when it was still on the market, it garnered its fair share of scrutiny. Over the past several years, more and more people sued J&J, claiming that their talc-based powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a cancer that forms in the lining around the lungs or abdomen. Now, the company is offering to pay up to $8.9 billion to settle the allegations, per AP News.

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that has been commonly used in personal care products, according to the FDA. But the substance is often found in mines alongside asbestos, which brings concern of contamination, and "generally accepted as being able to cause cancer if it is inhaled," according to the American Cancer Society. It's not uncommon for people to sprinkle baby powder in their underwear to help absorb sweat, and some studies indicate that this could increase one's risk of ovarian cancer, although other research hasn't found a link, reports CNN.

With the link between asbestos-free talc and cancer remaining unproven, Johnson & Johnson continue to deny that its baby powder contains asbestos. In fact, the proposed settlement doesn't require the company to admit any wrongdoing. Even so, the company states that about 60,000 people who've filed lawsuits regarding the talc-based products have backed the proposed settlement amount.

The company announced on April 4 that its subsidiary, LTL Management, has re-filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to proceed with one of the biggest product-liability settlements in the country. If approved, the settlement would be payable over the next 25 years "to remove all the current and future talc claims," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. The same statement emphasized that the claims "are specious and lack scientific merit."

In 2016, the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who passed at the age of 62 in 2015, was awarded $72 million dollars in both actual and punitive damages over claims that her use of J&J's talc-based products were linked to her developing ovarian cancer, reports NBC News. And in 2021, the US Supreme Court rejected J&J's appeal of a verdict that asked them to pay $2 billion to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer from its talc products, per AP News.