Minnesota to receive $10.5M in talc settlement with Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson will pay $10.5 million to Minnesota over the next three years as part of a nationwide settlement over deceptive marketing related to the company’s talc powder products.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office announced the details of the settlement with 42 other attorneys general on Tuesday. Johnson & Johnson will pay out $700 million in total.

The lawsuit claimed Johnson & Johnson deceptively advertised its talc powder products as “safe” and “pure,” even though the company did not ensure the talc mined for its products was free of asbestos, a known carcinogen. Further, the coalition alleged the company failed to disclose the presence of asbestos in its products.

Johnson & Johnson primarily marketed these to women as a means to absorb moisture and prevent chafing and odors in the genital area, Ellison’s office said. While the attorneys general investigating the company were focused on potentially deceptive marketing, several private class action lawsuits claimed Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder was linked to cases of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson had sold the products for more than a century but recently halted global sales amid investigations in the United States.

“Minnesotans need and deserve accurate information about the safety of the products they buy. Johnson & Johnson fell short of that expectation and the law when they misled consumers about the safety and purity of their baby powder, which put women’s lives at risk,” Ellison said in a statment. “I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan coalition of states that held Johnson & Johnson accountable. It should serve as a warning that we will not tolerate corporations that deceive the people of Minnesota.”

People with claims against Johnson & Johnson — specifically in cases of ovarian and gynecological cancer — may be entitled to compensation. These personal injury claims are being handled through a separate bankruptcy court process.

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral often found near asbestos deposits. The Food and Drug Administration, which regularly tests for asbestos content in talc, emphasizes the need for testing when selecting a location for mining talc.