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Johnson & Johnson sets aside almost $4 billion for talc verdict, filing shows © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Johnson & Johnson company offices are shown in Irvine, California

(Reuters) - Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) set aside $3.9 billion in litigation expenses in 2020, which it said was "primarily associated with talc-related reserves and certain settlements".

The company faces 25,000 lawsuits by former users of its baby powder who say asbestos-laced talc in the product caused their cancers, it said in a securities filing https://johnsonandjohnson.gcs-web.com/static-files/e2a329b4-aeb6-438d-a449-f0e282cf8ee0 on Monday.

The figure is nearly double the $2.1 billion the company, based in New Brunswick (NYSE:BC), New Jersey, said in November it would set aside for talc verdicts.

Johnson & Johnson has faced intense scrutiny over the safety of its baby powder following a 2018 Reuters report https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer that found it knew for decades about asbestos in the talc.

Internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence show that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

The drugmaker is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court against an award of $2.12 billion in damages in Missouri to women who blamed their ovarian cancer on asbestos in its products.

In November, a New York state judge ordered the company to pay damages of $120 million to a Brooklyn couple, after the woman blamed her cancer on asbestos exposure from using its baby powder.


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