Baby powder claims: J&J reaches an agreement with US states

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced that it and over forty states in the United States have reached a preliminary agreement regarding their investigation into the marketing of its talc-based infant powder and other products.

The healthcare behemoth expected to pay $700 million (£552 million), verifying a previously reported amount.

The agreement would constitute a component of a significantly more extensive resolution that the company has been endeavouring to achieve in order to address allegations pertaining to the safety of its products. According to J&J, they were consumer-safe.

It is, however, confronted with over 50,000 lawsuits from individuals alleging that its talc-based infant powder caused cancer, with some claiming that the product contained asbestos, a known carcinogen.

In an effort to plead bankruptcy court to the litigation, the organisation established a subsidiary tasked with resolving the claims.

It proposed a nearly $9 billion settlement a year ago, stating that the allegations were "speculative" but that it wished to resolve the matter. However, those plans were thwarted by the courts, which determined that the subsidiary was not in financial distress and therefore could not utilise the bankruptcy system to settle the litigation.

The provisional agreement was not commented upon by state officials.

Johnson & Johnson's global vice president of litigation, Erik Haas, stated that the organisation continued to develop a more comprehensive resolution.

"The organisation persists in exploring various avenues in an effort to reach a thorough and conclusive resolution to the talc litigation." "This progress includes a preliminary agreement between the company and a consortium of 43 state solicitors general to resolve their talc claims, as was revealed last week," he said in a statement.

"We shall continue to pursue legal action or reach a settlement with the parties who decline to participate in the consensual bankruptcy resolution that we are considering."

Johnson & Johnson has maintained that the products in question did not contain asbestos and did not cause cancer, and has prevailed in the preponderance of talc lawsuits brought against it. However, it has suffered several substantial setbacks, one of which involved a ruling in which 22 women were awarded a judgement exceeding $2 billion.

Analysts project that the corporation will ultimately expend over $10 billion in order to settle the legal disputes.

An attorney who was previously representing some of the cases on behalf of former clients stated earlier this month that the alleged resolution of the state matters provided "good tidings" for his clients by eliminating "distractions." "We must concentrate our efforts on reaching a global settlement regarding talc powder by 2024." Ronald Miller stated in a statement, "This is helpful."

Johnson & Johnson discontinued sales of its talc-based infant powder in the United States in 2020, attributing the decline in demand to "misinformation."

The powder was utilised not only to prevent diaper rash but also for various cosmetic purposes, including as dry shampoo. Later, it declared its intention to cease global sales.

Before that decision, the infant powder had been sold by the company for nearly 130 years. A corn-starch-containing variant of the product is still being sold.