Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to protect itself against more than 14,600 lawsuits in the U.S. that claim its talc causes cancer.
Imerys Talc Vermont and Imerys Talc Canada Inc., also filed for bankruptcy. All three are subsidiaries of Paris-based Imerys SA. The filing will enable the companies to establish a trust to fund current and future claims. All lawsuits against the company involving cancer claims will also be centralized under one judge.
“After carefully evaluating all possible options, we determined pursuing Chapter 11 protection is the best course of action to address our historic talc-related liabilities and position the companies for continued growth,” said Giorgio La Motta, Imerys Talc America’s president, in a statement.
Imerys has already spent tens of thousands of dollars to defend itself against litigation that its talc causes ovarian cancer when used on the genitals for feminine hygiene, or mesothelioma when its fine powder inhaled. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Many of the lawsuits claim that Imerys talc is contaminated with asbestos.
Imerys has been named in thousands of lawsuits alongside Johnson & Johnson, which uses Imerys talc to manufacture products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder.