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Johnson & Johnson reaches $700 million settlement in talc baby powder case

6/11: CBS Morning News
6/11: CBS Morning News 20:26

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $700 million in a nationwide settlement resolving allegations that it misled customers about the safety of its talcum-based powder products in its marketing. 

"Consumers rely on accurate information when making decisions about which products to purchase for their families," Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, one of 43 attorneys general involved in the lawsuit, said in a statement Tuesday. "Any company — no matter how large — must be held accountable when laws protecting consumers are broken and their trust is violated."

As part of the settlement, which is still pending judicial approval, the health products giant will permanently stop the manufacturing, promotion and sale of all of its baby powder and other body and cosmetic products that contain talcum powder. That includes Johnson's Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson's Shower to Shower. The company decided to pull talc-based powders off the market in North America in 2020

J&J will make four settlement payments, starting at the end of July, to 42 states and Washington, D.C., according to the settlement. 

In a statement, J&J's worldwide vice president of litigation, Erik Hass, said the company "continues to pursue several paths to achieve a comprehensive and final resolution of the talc litigation. That progress includes the finalization of a previously announced agreement that the Company reached with a consortium of 43 State Attorneys Generals to resolve their talc claims. We will continue to address the claims of those who do not want to participate in our contemplated consensual bankruptcy resolution through litigation or settlement."

The $700 million settlement is the latest development in decade-long legal battles and investigations into links between cancer and the talc used in one of its best-known products. More than 50,000 claims have been filed against the company, mostly on behalf of women who developed ovarian cancer. 

Earlier this month, a jury in Oregon awarded $260 million to a local woman who claimed that the company's baby powder products were "directly responsible" for her  cancer diagnosis in 2003. In April, a jury awarded $45 million to the family of an Illinois woman who died in 2020 from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in J&J powder. 

Last month, J&J offered to pay $6.5 billion to settle the talc-powder lawsuits. 

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