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J&J Reports 15% Jump in Suits Over Talc-Cancer Allegations

  • Company tells SEC case load has grown to almost 20,000
  • Judge this week bolstered science behind ovarian cancer claims
Pharmaceutical Company Johnson & Johnson To Pay 4.6 Billion Dollars To 22 Women Over Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson has seen a 15% jump in lawsuits filed over the last seven months alleging that its Baby Powder causes different types of cancer, according to a regulatory filing.

The world’s largest maker of health-care products said the case load rose to 19,400 from 16,800 since September 2019 in a filing Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The disclosure comes after a judge’s ruled J&J must defend thousands of women’s claims the company’s iconic talc-based powders caused ovarian cancers. The women contend talc alone can cause ovarian cancer and that powder contaminated with asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer directly linked to asbestos. J&J denies the product causes either illness.

“The number of pending product liability lawsuits continues to increase, and the company continues to receive information with respect to potential costs and the anticipated number of cases,” J&J said in the SEC filing.

Jake Sargent, a J&J spokesman, declined to break down the numbers of pending ovarian and mesothelioma cases.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers claim internal J&J documents show executives knew since the early 1970s that talc mined in Vermont and Italy contained trace amounts of asbestos, but failed to alert consumers or regulators. The company says its product is marketed properly. It has steadfastly fought the majority of lawsuits at trial and on appeal, settling only a few.

The majority of the ovarian cases are gathered before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson for pre-trial information exchanges and test trials. On Monday, she cleared those suits to move forward after finding portions of the science underlying their allegations was valid.

The case is In Re Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 16-md-2738, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Trenton).