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Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $700M to settle talc baby powder probe

The tentative agreement with 43 states will resolve a decade-long legal fight over claims that the company's baby powder caused cancer.

Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $700M to settle talc baby powder probe
Jeff Chiu / AP
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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 to end sales of baby powder with talc
J&J to end sales of baby powder with talc
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J&J to end sales of baby powder with talc

J&J faced thousands of lawsuits alleging its talcum powder caused users to develop ovarian cancer.

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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.