Attorney General Platkin, 42 States Announce $700 Million Johnson & Johnson Settlement

States Allege Deceptive Marketing of Asbestos-Tainted Talc Products

For Immediate Release: June 11, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
– Cari Fais, Acting Director
Division of Law
– Michael T.G. Long, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Allison Inserro, OAGpress@njoag.gov

View Complaint  |  View Consent Order

TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs, together with 42 other Attorneys General, today announced that they reached a $700 million nationwide settlement with Johnson & Johnson to resolve allegations related to the marketing of talc-based baby powder and body powder products. As part of that settlement, New Jersey will receive just over $30.2 million.

The states allege that for decades, the company deceptively marketed the products to women and teenage girls as safe, pure, and gentle for daily use, including around the genital area, despite knowing that studies and other information showed that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder were sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that women who used talc-based powders in the genital area had an increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those women who did not.

The lawsuits filed today by the states were settled with simultaneous consent judgements. As part of those settlements, Johnson & Johnson is prohibited from promoting, manufacturing, selling, and distributing talc powder products in the United States. The lawsuit details how as far back as the 1950s, Johnson & Johnson was aware of the potential for asbestos in its products. Over the ensuing decades, other manufacturers began to place warning labels on their talc-based products and eventually switched to cornstarch, but Johnson & Johnson refused to make any changes to its marketing and advertising, and even went so far as to make a concerted effort to target African American and Latina women in its campaigns in order to reverse declining sales.

These deceptive promotions and misleading advertisements are violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

“The company blatantly promoted the products as safe and pure while possessing internal information about a carcinogen and while ignoring mounting external evidence about possible health effects,” said Attorney General Platkin. “I am gratified that we achieved this settlement for the sake of many consumers who were injured by Johnson & Johnson’s actions. This is an egregious betrayal of consumer trust that never should have happened.”

“New Jersey has robust laws to protect consumers from fraud and deceit in the marketplace. Johnson & Johnson violated those laws with its deceptive and misleading marketing efforts that concealed the serious health risks associated with its talc-based powders,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Today’s settlement holds Johnson & Johnson responsible for its campaign of deception and for targeting Black and Latina women with a product that it knew would put them at risk.”

The company did not stop U.S. sales of Johnson’s Baby Powder until May 2020, months after the Food and Drug Administration discovered asbestos in a bottle of the powder. More recently, the company ended global sales of the talc-based powder.

While this lawsuit targeted the deceptive marketing of these products, numerous other lawsuits filed by private plaintiffs in class actions raised allegations that talc causes serious health issues, including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Today’s settlement, which was filed in the Chancery Division of the Superior Court in Mercer County, is pending judicial approval and is not connected to the other lawsuits.

Under the consent judgment, Johnson & Johnson agreed to:

  • Cease and not resume the manufacturing, marketing, promotion, sale, and distribution of all baby and body powder products and cosmetic powder products that contain talcum powder, including, but not limited to, Johnson’s Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower product in the United States;
  • Permanently stop the manufacture of any of these products in the United States either directly, or indirectly through any third party;
  • Permanently end the products’ marketing and promotion in the United States either directly, or indirectly through any third party; and
  • Permanently stop the sale or distribution of the products in the United States either directly, or indirectly through any third party.

Texas, Florida, and North Carolina led the multistate settlement, with Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin joining.

Deputy Attorney General Cathleen O’Donnell and Deputy Attorney General/Section Chief Jesse J. Sierant of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group represented the State in this matter.

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