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Johnson & Johnson reaches tentative deal to resolve talc baby powder litigation

Johnson & Johnson has reached tentative agreement to resolve talc baby powder claims with more than 40 states, the world's biggest maker of health care products confirmed on Tuesday.

"As was leaked last week, that progress includes an agreement in principle 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," Erik Haas, J&J's worldwide vice president of litigation, stated.

Bloomberg News earlier this month reported that J&J struck an initial deal to pay about $700 million to resolve a probe by states into allegations it failed to warn people about the potential health risks posed by the talc in its baby powder. J&J CFO Joseph Wolk confirmed the proposed settlement in an interview Tuesday with the Wall Street Journal.

The development is the latest 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. 

The settlement comes after J&J tried twice without success to use bankruptcy courts to limit its exposure to talc litigation.

J&J has long maintained its talc-based products do not cause cancer. The company pulled talc-based powders off the market in North America in 2020 and now offers a product that uses cornstarch instead. 

The company last year set aside roughly $400 million to resolve U.S. state consumer protection claims. That was part of a larger $8.9 billion effort in the bankruptcy filing of one of its units to settle claims its baby powder and other talc products cause cancer.

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