Johnson & Johnson to end global sales of talc-based baby powder

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Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday (Aug 11) that it will stop selling talc-based baby powder internationally in 2023, more than two years after it stopped selling the product in the United States.

“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to move to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” the company said, adding that cornstarch-based baby powder is already available in nations worldwide.

J&J denies the allegations, claiming that decades of scientific testing and regulatory approvals have demonstrated that its talc is safe and free of asbestos. It reiterated the assertion on Thursday when it announced the product’s discontinuance.

In October, J&J set up subsidiary LTL Management, allocated its talc claims to it, and soon declared bankruptcy, putting the pending cases on hold.

Those suing argue that Johnson & Johnson should be required to defend itself in the cases, while defendants of J&J and the bankrupt subsidiary process argue that it is an equitable means to compensate claimants.

According to Ben Whiting, an attorney with the plaintiffs firm Keller Postman, the company’s selling decision will not have an immediate impact on the claims because they are stopped in bankruptcy. However, if a federal appeals court allows the claims to proceed, consumers may try to cite Johnson & Johnson’s decision to discontinue the products as evidence, according to Whiting.

“If these lawsuits go through, it will be a huge problem,” Whiting added.

According to bankruptcy court papers, the corporation faced expenditures of more than US$3.5 billion in judgements and settlements before to the bankruptcy filing, including one in which 22 women were awarded a judgment of more than US$2 billion.

In April, a shareholder resolution to halt global sales of talc baby powder failed.

According to a 2018 Reuters investigation, J&J was aware for decades that asbestos, a carcinogen, was included in its talc products. Internal corporate documents, trial testimony, and other evidence revealed that J&J’s raw talc and finished powders occasionally tested positive for trace quantities of asbestos from at least 1971 through the early 2000s.

J&J has consistently said that their talc products are safe and do not cause cancer in response to evidence of asbestos contamination given in media reports, courtrooms, and on Capitol Hill.

Johnson’s Baby Powder, which has been sold since 1894, has become a hallmark of the company’s family-friendly image.

According to Reuters, an internal J&J marketing presentation from 1999 refers to the baby products division, with Baby Powder at the core, as J&J’s “#1 Asset,” despite the fact that the baby powder accounted for only about 0.5 percent of the company’s US consumer health business when it was pulled from the shelves.

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