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WV among 42 states settling with pharmaceutical company over talc powder marketing

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WV among 42 states settling with pharmaceutical company over talc powder marketing

Jun 11, 2024 | 5:13 pm ET
By Lori Kersey
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WV among 42 states settling with pharmaceutical company over talc powder marketing
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West Virginia is among 42 states settling with Johnson & Johnson over the company's marketing of talc powder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

West Virginia is one of 42 states that have reached a $700 million settlement agreement with Johnson & Johnson over allegations about the company’s marketing of baby powder and body powder products that contained talc, which allegedly causes cancer.

West Virginia will get nearly $6 million if a judge approves the proposed agreement.

“This is a prime example that businesses should be up-front and honest about their products’ information, especially when the safety and wellbeing of consumers rely upon the accuracy and truthfulness of that information,” Attorney General Morrisey said in a news release announcing the settlement agreement. “Let this be a warning to those who are promoting their products in a deceitful manner to mislead consumers: We will investigate and you will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

The lawsuit alleges that Johnson & Johnson marketed their talc products for women to use on and in their genitals, despite being aware of studies and other information demonstrating that the products were sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and women who used the products in the genital area had an increase risk of ovarian cancer.

As part of the lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson agreed to stop manufacturing and selling its baby powder and body powder products that contain talc in the United States.

According to the proposed order filed Tuesday, despite the agreement the company does not admit or concede “any violation of law, rule, or regulation, or of any other matter of fact or law, or of any liability or wrongdoing, all of which Defendant expressly denies.”

According to the proposed settlement, the company would pay the $700 million in four yearly installments of $175 million, with the first to be paid this summer.

The agreement stipulates that West Virginia’s portion of the settlement may be used for the “administrative, investigative, compliance, enforcement, or litigation costs and services incurred for consumer protection purposes; to be held for appropriation by the Legislature; and/or distribution to taxpayers and/or consumers.”

The state Attorney General’s Office did not return a message seeking specific information about how the money would be spent.

The lawsuit was led by Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. In addition to West Virginia, plaintiffs included 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 Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Johnson & Johnson did not return an email seeking comment.