NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday (May 19) announced that it would stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, saying it was part of a broad reassessment of its consumer product portfolio prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The US healthcare conglomerate said it would wind down sales of the product, which makes up about 0.5 per cent of its US consumer health business, in the coming months, but that retailers will continue to sell existing inventory.
J&J faces more than 16,000 lawsuits from consumers claiming its talc products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, caused their cancer. The majority are pending before a US district judge in New Jersey.
The lawsuits allege that the company’s talc products have been contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. J&J has consistently defended the safety of its talc products and said it remains confident in their safety.
In April, a New Jersey judge ruled that thousands of plaintiffs who allege that J&J’s talc products caused cancer can go forward with their claims, but face limits on what expert testimony will be allowed in trials.
J&J in December said its testing found no asbestos in its Baby Powder after tests conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration discovered trace amounts. The FDA’s test prompted J&J to recall of one lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder in October.
“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” J&J said in a statement.
J&J said it will continue to sell cornstarch-based baby powder in North America, and that it will sell both its talc- and cornstarch-based products in other markets around the world.