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J&J Will Stop Selling Baby Powder Worldwide Timely Insights on Laws, Issues and New Developements
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Thousands of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over its talcum powder have driven the company to cease selling its most iconic product. J&J’s Baby Powder or talcum, allegedly contaminated with asbestos, will no longer be available on store shelves.

The well-known American pharmaceutical multinational Johnson & Johnson announced in 2020 that it would no longer sell its talcum powder in America and Canada. The New Brunswick, NJ-based J&J nevertheless continued to sell talcum powder in other countries, but an apparent sharp decline in demand has led to its discontinuation.

J&J Baby Powder to Be Reformulated

Johnson & Johnson has now said that its baby talcum powder will not be for sale in any country in 2023. The powder will be replaced by a new talcum with a corn starch base.

A company spokesperson said of the change: “We continuously evaluate and optimize our portfolio to best position the company for long-term growth. This transition will help simplify our product offerings, deliver sustainable innovation and meet the needs of our consumers, customers and evolving global trends.”

Lawsuits filed by people who claim they developed mesothelioma or other cancer from using J&J’s talcum powder say those products contain cancer-causing asbestos. The company faces some 38,000 lawsuits from consumers who allege injuries such as ovarian cancer or mesothelioma from using J&J talc products – usually its iconic Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products. The company has lost several multi-million dollar verdicts over these products, though it has also won some of these trials or had some of them dismissed.

J&J Denies All

Johnson & Johnson claims in a summer 2022 press release, as it has claimed in every one of its trials, that its talc-based products are safe and free of asbestos, saying: “JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.”

A company spokesperson also said that Johnson & Johnson decided to pull the product due to “misleading talc litigation advertising that caused global confusion and unfounded concern.”

Johnson’s decision comes after thousands of women in recent years sued the company claiming that the powder gave them either ovarian cancer, or mesothelioma cancer, which strikes the lungs as well as other organs.

The New Jersey company has also acknowledged that a decline in demand for its talc powder also prompted the change. J&J officials have said the move will simplify the company’s product selection and “meet evolving global trends.”

Race-based Marketing?

A group of Black women filed a lawsuit last summer against Johnson & Johnson. They claimed J&J marketed baby powder to Black women for decades despite knowing it had ingredients that could cause ovarian cancer. The National Council of Negro Women filed the suit some three years after a Missouri jury ordered J&J to pay $4.7 billion in damages to women in a similar case. That award was later cut to $2.1 billion.

Talcum is a mineral similar in structure to asbestos, which is known to cause cancer. Both talc and asbestos are sometimes obtained from the same mines. Therefore, the two can be difficult (and some would say impossible) to separate, as they both occur naturally together.

Baby Powder Recall

Talcum Powder LawsuitJohnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of its baby powder in 2020 after FDA regulators found a small amount of asbestos in a bottle the agency purchased online. J&J later said that 15 tests of the same bottle of baby powder conducted by two laboratories hired by the company found no asbestos. There was no independent analysis of the recalled products for asbestos.

In the court trials, most of the plaintiffs’ experts have testified that J&J talc is riddled with asbestos, while J&J’s experts testify that it contains virtually none at all.

CBS News reported that 250,000 women in the largest study to look at the talc cancer question failed to find “strong evidence” that would link baby powder with ovarian cancer. However, the results were “very ambiguous,” according to the lead author of that analysis.

Financial Moves by Johnson & Johnson

In the fall of 2021, J&J created a spinoff subsidiary which it calls LTL Management. This spinoff was made to manage J&J’s talc lawsuit claims. Then, the new spinoff, LTL Management, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Critics of that move believe — with some obvious evidence to back the claim — that it was designed to delay settlements from the many talc-related lawsuits. J&J said it moved roughly $2 billion into a trust fund it created to pay the claims a bankruptcy court might determine it owes.

Johnson & Johnson also said in late 2021 that it would make its consumer health business a separate publicly traded company selling their baby and bath powder, the popular Band-Aid bandages, and other well-known personal care product lines. The very profitable division of Johnson & Johnson that sells product lines such as vaccines, prescription drugs, and medical devices will retain the famous J&J name.

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