Health

Johnson & Johnson Will Stop Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder In U.S. & Canada

The announcement follows years of legal action against the company alleging that its talc-based product causes cancer.

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Johnson & Johnson is halting sales of its emblematic talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. Over the years, the company has faced thousands of lawsuits from patients alleging that the company’s talc-based product was linked to cancer.

The company announced on Tuesday that it stopped shipping hundreds of items in the U.S. and Canada in March to prioritize highly demanded products and support social distancing measures in its manufacturing facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic. Following that action, it decided to discontinue hundreds of products, including its talc-based baby powder, in the two countries.

Baby powder made with cornstarch will still be available in North America, and Johnson & Johnson will still sell talc-based baby powder in other parts of the world.

As of late March, 19,400 lawsuits related to talc powders had been filed against Johnson & Johnson, according to a report by the New York Times. The Times also reported that a federal judge in April granted plaintiffs’ scientific experts the right to testify against the company, with some exceptions.

Talc, a mineral used in baby powder to absorb moisture, is sometimes mined in close proximity to asbestos deposits, allowing for possible cross-contamination. The World Health Organization considers asbestos to be carcinogenic to humans. 

Lawsuits filed as early as 1997 have alleged a tie between the company’s talc-based products and ovarian cancer as well as mesothelioma, cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and/or heart. A bombshell Reuters investigation in 2018 also found that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its products were contaminated by asbestos, but didn’t publicly disclose that information. The company called the report “false and inflammatory,” and as recently as late April, denied to Reuters that its talc-based products caused cancer.

In December 2018, the company was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed their ovarian cancer was linked to asbestos contamination in Johnson & Johnson talc products. The company is appealing the decision

However, a jury in South Carolina ruled in the company’s favor in 2019, claiming that its baby powder did not contain asbestos and was not a contributor to the plaintiff’s disease. In October 2019, the company also announced a recall of 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the FDA found asbestos levels in a single bottle purchased online.

In October 2019, the company also announced a recall of 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the FDA found asbestos levels in a single bottle purchased online.

In its Tuesday announcement, Johnson & Johnson claimed that demand for its 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.”