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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 13 June 2024

Today, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and 42 other attorneys general announced they have reached a $700 million nationwide settlement to resolve allegations related to the marketing of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and body powder products that contained talc. As its share of the settlement, (which is pending judicial approval), Oregon will receive approximately $15 million, $4.7 million of which will directly support women’s health. 

Johnson & Johnson sold such products for over a hundred years. After the state AGs began investigating, the company stopped distributing and selling these products in the United States and more recently ended global sales. 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. 

“For decades, Johnson & Johnson misled consumers about the potential harms of its talc powder products. Worse, they doubled down on the safety of those products, attacked credible scientific studies, refused to include warning labels on their products, and, at every turn, put profits ahead of lives. These decisions overwhelmingly harmed women,” said Rosenblum. “This settlement – important as it is -- can never undo those harms,” she added. 

The consent judgment filed in this lawsuit addresses allegations that Johnson & Johnson deceptively promoted and misled consumers in advertisements related to the safety and purity of some of its talc powder products. As part of the lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to stop the manufacture and sale of its baby powder and body powder products that contain talc in the United States. 

One of the more egregious allegations regarding the company’s conduct is that J&J specifically targeted African American and Hispanic women in its marketing campaigns in order to reverse declines in sales of its baby powders. As a result of the settlement, four organizations focused on women’s health in Oregon will receive funding, as follows: 

  1. Planned Parenthood will receive $2 million for Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, and $2 million for Planned Parenthood Southwestern Oregon. The two Oregon organizations will use the grants to increase outreach and access to critical healthcare services and to accelerate the impact Planned Parenthood can have on closing health disparities for breast and cervical cancer and STI rates throughout the state among populations most historically marginalized.
  2. Virginia Garcia Memorial Health will receive approximately $350,000. The grant will be used to increase access to transvaginal ultrasounds (for ovarian cancer screenings) and the availability of HBV vaccines.
  3. OHSU Foundation will receive $275,000, to fund a project that targets tribal communities to fund an outreach cancer screening van.
  4. Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Oregon and SW Washington will receive $55,750. This organization works directly with patients with Ovarian Cancer to try to lighten the burden of the disease. 

 

Under the consent judgment, Johnson & Johnson:

  1. Has ceased and not resumed 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 (“Covered Products”) in the United States.
  2. Shall permanently stop the manufacture of any Covered Products in the United States either directly, or indirectly through any third party.
  3. Shall permanently stop the marketing and promotion of any Covered Products in the United States either directly, or indirectly through any third party.
  4. Shall permanently stop the sale or distribution any covered products in the United States either directly, or indirectly through any third party.

 

Oregon Senior Assistant Attorney General David Hart served on the Executive Committee for the complex settlement negotiations.  Texas, Florida and North Carolina AGs led the multistate effort. 

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