J&J to end global sales of talc-based powder amid lawsuits, cancer concerns

 In this photo illustration, a container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson sits on a table on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 13: In this photo illustration, a container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson sits on a table on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson stopped selling their talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada in 2020, and announced on Thursday that it will end their global sales of the product in 2023.

"As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio," J&J said in a statement.

J&J said in 2020 that they were ending the sales of talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada "because demand had fallen in the wake of what it called 'misinformation' about the product's safety amid a barrage of legal challenges," according to Reuters.

The decision to end the sales in the U.S. and Canada came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found asbestos in the product, and forced the company to recall 33,000 bottles of talc-based baby powder, according to The Guardian.

Reuters reported that J&J is facing roughly 38,000 lawsuits claiming that the talc-based baby powder caused cancer due to it being contaminated with asbestos. Additionally, a shareholder proposal requesting the end of global sales of talc-based baby powder failed in April.

J&J added in their statement that the cornstarch-based version of baby powder is already sold in other countries around the world.

"We continuously evaluate and optimize our portfolio to best position the business for long-term growth," J&J said. "This transition will help simplify our product offerings, deliver sustainable innovation, and meet the needs of our consumers, customers and evolving global trends."

However, the company went on stand by their claim that the talc-based baby powder didn't contain asbestos nor does it cause cancer.

"Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged. We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer," J&J said.

J&J created a subsidiary, LTL Management, in October 2021, assigning the talc-related claims to it and placing it in bankruptcy to pause the pending lawsuits. J&J faced $3.5 billion in verdicts and settlements prior to the bankruptcy filing, per Reuters and The Guardian. One settlement involved 22 women being awarded a judgement of more than $2 billion.

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