J&J inks talc lawsuits settlement

Jan. 25, 2024

Johnson & Johnson has tentatively settled with over 40 states regarding an investigation into allegations of misleading patients about the safety of its talc baby powder and other talc-based products.

The $700 million settlement, confirmed to the Wall Street Journal by a J&J exec, does not resolve the multitude of consumer lawsuits, some of which are scheduled for trial this year, claiming that these products caused cancer.

Last October, J&J disclosed that 42 states and Washington, D.C. were jointly investigating its marketing of talc-based products.

In 2021, J&J spent $1.6 billion on talc litigation and $3.9 billion in 2020, according to financial reports. Notably, the company employed a legal maneuver known as the "Texas two-step bankruptcy" last year, creating a subsidiary to manage claims and placing it in Chapter 11 bankruptcy to facilitate settlement.

These legal challenges have been a longstanding of financial and public relations difficulties for J&J. Despite the settlement, the company insists that its talc-based products, including the now-discontinued talc baby powder, are safe for consumers.

The drugmaker discontinued its talc-based products in 2023. This shift was portrayed as a business decision as the company transitions to cornstarch-based baby powder, citing a "worldwide portfolio assessment" to optimize growth.