J&J Reaches $700 Million Talc Settlement

Legislation & Litigation

Johnson & Johnson will pay $700 million to settle an investigation concerning the marketing practices of its talc-based products. The multimillion-dollar settlement resolves charges that J&J misled people to believe its talc products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower, were safe.

The company is also facing more than 61,000 lawsuits with claims that its talc products caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma

Company officials are not admitting wrongdoing and deny violating the law. J&J has said its products are safe and don’t cause cancer. As part of the settlement, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to permanently stop the manufacturing, promotion and sale of all products that contain talcum powder.

“District residents and customers nationwide deserve the truth about products they’re purchasing, especially products geared toward children,” D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb said in a statement. “With this bipartisan, multistage settlement, we’re holding Johnson & Johnson financially accountable for decades of harm inflicted on consumers through deceptive marketing tactics, and we’re ensuring that products that have been linked to serious health problems are no longer on the market.”

If the settlement is approved, J&J will make its first of four payments to 42 states and Washington D.C. in July 2024. Each installment will be $175 million and paid over the next three years. 

Johnson & Johnson’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 attorneys general 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.”

Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma. The latency period between asbestos exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma can range from 20 to 60 years. Exposure to asbestos can also cause ovarian cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

J&J’s Ovarian Cancer Settlement

In May 2024, Johnson & Johnson proposed a $6.475 billion settlement to resolve all current and future claims that its talc-based products caused ovarian cancer. If approved, it would settle 99.75% of the remaining talc lawsuits the company faces in the United States. But it wouldn’t apply to the remaining mesothelioma lawsuits the company plans on addressing separately. 

Plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products were contaminated with asbestos. Since both asbestos and talc are naturally occurring minerals found close together in the earth, talc can become easily contaminated with the toxic mineral. Court documents show J&J knew asbestos had contaminated the talc used in its popular Johnson’s Baby Powder since the 1950s. 

In 2020, the company pulled all of its talc-based products from stores across North America. J&J then discontinued the worldwide sale of its talc-containing products, switching to cornstarch-based products. Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma. Doctors diagnose nearly 3,000 cases each year. Exposure to asbestos can also cause ovarian cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

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