Johnson & Johnson reaches settlement over recalled sunscreen

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Costco Wholesale have reached an agreement to settle lawsuits over several recalled J&J sunscreen products.

Lawyers for the companies and for plaintiffs suing over the Neutrogena and Aveeno-branded aerosol sunscreen products disclosed the settlement in a court filing in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida federal court on Friday, without revealing its terms.

They said they expected to submit the settlement for court approval by 19 November.

J&J noted that the agreement, which is subject to court approval, was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing. It added that it strongly disputes the merits of these lawsuits and stands behind its position that it marketed our sunscreen products appropriately and responsibly.

J&J voluntarily recalled four Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen products and one from Aveeno on 14 July, after finding small amounts of benzene.

Benzene is classified as a substance that can potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, J&J said the levels it detected were too low to pose a health risk, but “out of an abundance of caution” pulled all lots of the products and offered refunds.

The US Food and Drug Administration said following the recall it was investigating how benzene had ended up in the sunscreens.

A federal judicial panel earlier this month consolidated lawsuits filed nationwide against J&J and Costco, which sold the products, in the Florida court. The settlement would resolve all of the claims in the consolidated litigation, according to the filing.

Plaintiffs have said in court filings that tens of thousands of consumers could have claims.

Costco and plaintiffs’ lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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