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Published on June 12, 2024
Massachusetts Secures $14.5 Million from Johnson & Johnson in $700 Million Nationwide Talc SettlementSource: Wikipedia/Johnson & Johnson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has laid down its gavel in a legal battle with Johnson & Johnson, securing a cool $14.5 million for its coffers as part of a hefty $700 million nationwide settlement. This legal reckoning comes after a consortium of 43 state attorneys general, including Massachusetts’ own Andrea Joy Campbell, found common cause in accusing the pharmaceutical titan of deceptive marketing around their talc-containing baby powder and body powder products. Massachusetts stands poised to receive its share over five years, hinging on a nod from the judiciary.

Filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the proposed consent judgment pinpoints allegations that the company bamboozled consumers with advertisements overstating the safety and purity of its talc-laden products. Such practices are slated to cease, as Johnson & Johnson has concurred to discontinue the manufacture and sale of these powders on U.S. soil. "For decades, Johnson & Johnson prioritized its own financial profit and risked the health and safety of consumers, including vulnerable infants and children, by deceiving consumers about the purity of its products," AG Campbell asserted in a statement that spares no criticism for the conglomerate’s dangerous game of profits over people, as reported by mass.gov.

Under scrutiny, Johnson & Johnson halted the spread of these talc products in the U.S. and later, worldwide. The multistate investigation dug deeper than mere marketing ploys, linking talc to serious health concerns like mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, which have become the crux of numerous class-action lawsuits. The proposed consent judgment, if approved by court officials, will bind Johnson & Johnson to a full stop on the manufacturing, marketing, sale, and distribution of any baby or body powder products that contain talcum powder. This pact applies to all its iterations, whether directly or via third-party channels, on American turf.

Massachusetts' slice of the settlement pie is part of a joint effort led by the attorneys general of powerhouse states Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, with a supporting cast that reads like a roll call of the nation: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and the list marches on to include a total of 42 states plus the District of Columbia. The chase was conducted by the AG’s Health Care Division, with Assistant Attorney General Michael Wong at the helm. As Massachusetts waits for the ink to dry on this judicial decree, it's a reminder that no giant is too lofty to escape the long arm of the law — and the due diligence of vigilant regulators seeking recompense for the public.