New Delhi: Johnson & Johnson announced on Thursday that it will stop selling talc-based baby powder globally in 2023, more than two years after it stopped selling the product in the US, which prompted thousands of consumer safety lawsuits. “As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” it said, adding that cornstarch-based baby powder is already sold in countries around the world.
Due to a decline in demand brought on by what J&J referred to as “misinformation” about the product’s safety and a flood of legal challenges, the company announced in 2020 that it would stop selling its talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada. About 38,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company by consumers and the survivors of those who have died from cancer, alleging that asbestos, a known carcinogen, was present in the talc products.
J&J denies the allegations, saying decades of scientific testing and regulatory approvals have shown its talc to be safe and asbestos-free. On Thursday, it reiterated the statement as it announced the discontinuation of the product.
J&J spun off subsidiary LTL Management in October, assigned its talc claims to it and immediately placed it into bankruptcy, pausing the pending lawsuits. Those suing have said Johnson & Johnson should have to defend itself against the lawsuits, while defendants of J&J and the bankrupt subsidiary process say it is an equitable way to compensate claimants.
According to a 2018 Reuters investigation, J&J had long known that its talc products contained asbestos, a known carcinogen. Internal company documents, trial testimony, and other evidence revealed that J&J’s finished powders and raw talc occasionally tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos from at least 1971 to the early 2000s.
In response to evidence of asbestos contamination presented in media reports, Johnson’s Baby Powder, which has been available since 1894, has come to represent the brand’s commitment to families. According to Reuters, a 1999 internal J&J marketing presentation refers to the baby products division, which is centred on Baby Powder, as J&J’s “#1 Asset,” even though the baby powder represented only about 0.5% of the company’s U.S. consumer health business when it was taken off the shelves. Courtroom and on Capitol Hill, J&J has repeatedly said its talc products are safe and do not cause cancer.
(With Inputs from PTI)