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State sues alleging asbestos-tainted talc

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the day the lawsuit was filed.

New Mexico is going after four corporations for allegedly peddling talcum powder that contained “hazardous and carcinogenic asbestos” to unwitting consumers for decades.

State Attorney General Hector Balderas on Thursday filed a lawsuit in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe against Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc., Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Corp. and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC.

The lawsuit alleges the companies sold talcum powder products – such as Johnson’s Baby Powder, Johnson’s Medicated Powder and Shower-to-Shower Talcum Powder – despite knowing “for over forty years” that the products contained hazardous asbestos known to increase some types of cancer.

“Our office will take immediate action any time a corporation misleads a New Mexican consumer or endangers the health and safety of our families,” Balderas said in a statement. “These products have been targeted at minority groups, especially black and Hispanic women and children, with false messages about their safety, and I will hold these companies accountable.”

According to the release, the companies “actively worked to conceal” the asbestos risk from consumers and government regulators, instead marketing the products as “safe and healthful.”

The state is one of the first in the nation to file a lawsuit against the companies as a result of the hazardous talcum powder.

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