- Rep. Katie Porter blasted Johnson & Johnson for trying to separate its company.
- She said that the company is trying to "shield its assets" during lawsuits.
- The lawsuits allege that the company knew their baby powder had asbestos in it for decades.
Rep. Katie Porter called out Johnson & Johnson on Twitter for moving to separate the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder portions from the company as it faces lawsuits from tens of thousands of women alleging the Baby Powder and other talc products from the company were contaminated with asbestos.
"Johnson & Johnson filed in court last week to split its Baby Powder from the rest of the company," the congresswoman tweeted. "Why? J&J knew asbestos laced some bottles but kept it a secret for decades. Tens of thousands of women with ovarian cancer are suing, and the company wants to shield its assets."
"J&J sold the powder for 60 years, and now that it has to pay for these women's medical bills, it wants the courts to treat 'Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder' as a separate company," California congresswoman continued.
-Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) October 19, 2021
A 2018 investigation by Reuters reported that small amounts of asbestos were found in the company's baby powder between the early 1970s and the early 2000s. The investigation found through documents that the company failed to disclose that information.
The company has repeatedly denied the claims.
Reuters reported last week that cases against Johnson & Johnson cost to company about $1 billion to defend, and settlements and verdicts have been an additional $3.5 billion.
In June, J&J had to pay out $2 billion to women who claim their products caused ovarian cancer.
Nearly 40,000 plaintiffs are suing Johnson & Johnson, alleging that their talc-based products caused cancer and mesothelioma.
In one suit, the plaintiffs allege "Johnson & Johnson's baby powder was aggressively marketed to Black women as a product that would 'maintain freshness and cleanliness,'" Insider's Aleeya Mayo previously reported. "But, the group says, internal documents from a study conducted in 1968 suggest that the powder contained talc which may have been contaminated with asbestos and that the company knew there was a 'carcinogenic nature of talc and the effects of talc use.'"
The company put these claims into a company called LTL Management LLC, which filed for bankruptcy last Thursday, October 14, halting the cases, according to Reuters. The lawsuits are currently paused while the bankruptcy is negotiated. J&J said will fund the company's legal costs, but the amount is under review, Reuters reported.
Court paperwork by the newly filed company said that the case was "necessitated by an unrelenting assault by the plaintiff trial bar, premised on the false allegations that the ... talc products contain asbestos and cause cancer," according to Reuters.
"There are countless Americans suffering from cancer, or mourning the death of a loved one, because of the toxic baby powder that Johnson & Johnson put on the market that has made it one of the most profitable pharmaceutical corporations in the world. Their conduct and now bankruptcy gimmick is as despicable as it is brazen," Linda Lipsen, who is a part of the American Association for Justice, said in a statement, according to ABC News.
The company did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.