Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has set apart $3.9 billion for talc-related litigation, as outlined in a regulatory filing earlier this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington D.C.

The company said it’s now going through more than 25,000 lawsuits associated with numerous talc products which have allegedly caused cancers, by and large from asbestos fiber contamination. The $3.9bn is nearly double the amount that Johnson & Johnson reported being set apart for litigation charges in 2020.

In 2020 a Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court ruling, but reduced the award from $4.69 billion to $2.12 billion in damages to 22 women who claimed that J&J’s iconic baby powder caused their ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson is appealing that decision to the United States Supreme Court. The company insists that its products are safe, and that any cases of infected talc have been isolated incidents or because of defective testing.

While the majority of cases pending towards J&J are associated with ovarian cancer, some have concerned malignant mesothelioma. Exposure to asbestos is the only proven cause of this type of cancer. The problem of contaminated talc stems from the mining process – talc deposits are often found in combination with naturally-occurring asbestos.

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