J&J to halt sales of baby talc- powder in the wake of cancer lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson will cease its global sales of talc powder in 2023, the drugmaker declared on Thursday, more than two years after it put an end to American sales of a product that attracted thousands of consumer safety lawsuits.
“As part of an assessment of the global portfolio, we have taken the commercial decision to switch to a baby powder portfolio based on corn starch,” it said, adding that corn starch infant powder is already sold worldwide.
In 2020, J&J announced that it would no longer sell baby talc powder in the U.S and Canada because demand had plummeted as a result of what he called “disinformation” about product safety in the middle of a barrage of legal challenges.
The company is facing about 38,000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors claiming that its talc products caused cancer due to the known carcinogen asbestos contamination.
J&J denies the claims, claiming that decades of scientific testing and regulatory approval have proven that its talc is safe and asbestos-free. On Thursday, it reiterated the statement by announcing that the product would be discontinued.
J&J terminated its subsidiary LTL Management in October, assigned its talc claims to J&J, and immediately bankrupted J&J, ending the ongoing lawsuit. The litigants stated that Johnson & Johnson should have to defend itself against the lawsuits, while the defendants of J&J and the bankrupt subsidiary process say it’s a fair way to compensate applicants.
Ben Whiting, a lawyer with the plaintiff company Keller Postman, said that because the lawsuits are suspended in bankruptcy, the decision to sell the company will not immediately affect them. But if a federal court of appeal allows cases to go forward, consumers might try to use Johnson & Johnson’s decision to withdraw the products as evidence, Whiting said.
“If these cases were to go away again, then it’s really important,” Whiting said.
Prior to the filing of the bankruptcy, the company had to deal with costs of $3.5 billion in verdicts and settlements, including one in which 22 women received a judgment of more than $2 billion based on bankruptcy court records.
A shareholder proposal aimed at ending global sales of baby talc failed in April.
A Reuters investigation in 2018 revealed that J&J had known for decades that asbestos, a carcinogen, was present in their talc products. Internal company records, testimony at trial, and other evidence demonstrated that at least 1971 in the early 2000s, J&J’s raw talc and powders were sometimes positive for small amounts of asbestos.
In response to evidence of asbestos contamination brought forward in media reports, In the courtroom, and on Capitol Hill, J&J has stated on a number of occasions that their talc products are safe and do not cause cancer.
Marketed in 1894, Johnson’s Baby Powder became a symbol of the company’s family image.