US drugmaker saves $4b for talc verdict

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Drugmaker Johnson and Johnson has set aside $US3.9 billion ($A4.9 billion) in litigation expenses it says are "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 on Monday.

The figure is nearly double the $US2.1 billion the company, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said in November it would set aside for talc verdicts.

Johnson and Johnson has faced intense scrutiny over the safety of its baby powder following a 2018 report 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 and J's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

The drugmaker is appealing to the US Supreme Court against an award of $US2.12 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 $US120 million to a Brooklyn couple, after the woman blamed her cancer on asbestos exposure from using its baby powder.