The world's largest manufacturer of health care products has agreed to resolve an investigation by dozens of states into claims that the company misled consumers about the safety of its talc baby powder.
Johnson & Johnson has reached a tentative agreement with 43 states to pay around $700 million after a decade-long legal fight to resolve claims that the company's talc-based products allegedly caused cancer. J&J Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk confirmed the settlement in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, saying it was an "important step" to finally "put the matter behind us."
J&J has twice tried to use bankruptcy courts as a way to limit its liability. The company proposed last year to pay nearly $9 billion to settle more than 52,000 personal injury lawsuits, many of which were filed by women who developed ovarian cancer after using the company's baby powder.
However, that proposal was ultimately rejected by a bankruptcy court, and now many of those lawsuits are slated to go to trial later this year. Some analysts project they could cost the company upwards of $15 billion.
J&J maintains that its talc-based baby powder is safe and was not a cancer-causing agent, but it has since discontinued sales of the product.
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