Bayer to pay up to $ 10.9 billion to settle Roundup cancer claims

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TOP LINE

German chemicals and pharmaceutical giant Bayer has reached a settlement worth up to $ 10.9 billion for tens of thousands of claims that Roundup weedkiller caused cancer, in hopes of putting end to years of litigation that weighed on the Bayer share price.

HIGHLIGHTS

Bayer acquired Roundup maker Monsanto in 2018 for $ 63 billion and inherited claims against Roundup in the process.

The complainants allege that glyphosate, a herbicide which is the key ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer; Monsanto and now Bayer have maintained that the weedkiller is safe.

Bayer said in a press release that it had earmarked $ 8.8 billion to $ 9.6 billion to settle outstanding claims, with an additional $ 1.25 billion set aside for potential future claims.

The settlement covers around 95,000 cases, according to the press release, but Bayer still faces 25,000 additional claims from plaintiffs who have not agreed to be part of the settlement.

The New York Times reported that the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed courts across the country, may have helped bring about the settlement.

Actions Bayer perked up on the settlement news on Wednesday, up nearly 2.5%.

Crucial quote

“It’s rare that we see a consensus settlement with so many zeros on it,” said Nora Freeman Engstrom, professor of law at Stanford University. Recount the Times.

What to watch

A portion of the $ 1.25 billion set aside for future claims will be used to convene a group of experts to determine whether glyphosate causes cancer and, if so, what dosage or level of exposure is unsafe.

News spades

The debate over glyphosate erupted in 2015 when an arm of the World Health Organization said the herbicide could “Probably” cause cancer, a statement refuted by the US National Institutes of Health in 2017. An environmental protection agency January report have found that glyphosate is not harmful to humans if used as indicated on the label, and that it is not carcinogenic. Monsanto said years of laboratory and field research have proven glyphosate to be safe.

Key context

Shortly after Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018, a California judge determined that glyphosate caused cancer for school guard Dewayne Johnson and awarded him $ 289 million, and said Monsanto should have warned consumers of the risk. Of them other jury trials in 2018 and 2019 yielded the same results for two additional plaintiffs, awarding them $ 80 million and $ 2 billion respectively. The plaintiffs’ prices were all slashed by judges in subsequent hearings, but Bayer’s share price took a hit. In August 2019, Bayer offers an $ 8 billion settlement for cancer-related claims and took steps to reduce costs by sale its animal health business at Elanco, a $ 7.6 billion deal that was closing in April 2020. Most recently, on Monday, a federal judge blocked a California move that would have required Bayer to label Roundup with a cancer warning.

Further reading

Bayer reaches $ 10.5 billion weedkiller roundup settlement (The Wall Street Journal)

Roundup Maker to pay $ 10 billion to settle cancer lawsuits (New York Times)

US court blocks California cancer label on Bayer’s Roundup weedkiller (Reuters)

Bayer sells animal health business for $ 7.6 billion amid increase in Roundup cancer claims (Forbes)


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