Johnson & Johnson will be discontinuing production and sales of its controversial talc-based baby powder after years of lawsuits over it.
The company announced the news in an August 11 press release, stating:
“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio. As a result of this transition, talc-based JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder will be discontinued globally in 2023.”
The decision to pull the product on a global scale came two years after the company stopped selling the talc-based powder in the United States. The company cited consumer “misinformation” causing a decline in sales of the product as the reason for stopping sales in North America.
Johnson & Johnson faced years of lawsuits and thousands of claims that the baby powder contained asbestos and was causing cancer. The lawsuits first began decades ago, with Johnson & Johnson denying claims that the baby powder contained asbestos in a 1997 lawsuit.
However, according to an investigation by Reuters, J&J knew that its products contained asbestos as early as the 1970s (but likely even before that).
According to the investigation, “J&J didn’t tell the FDA that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc – in one case at levels reported as ‘rather high.'”
Despite that information coming to light, Johnson & Johnson stood by its product and its use of talc in the baby powder, even while stopping its production. In the press release, the company said:
“Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged. We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.”
In October, J&J assigned talc liabilities worth multi-billions to its new subsidiary, LTL Management LLC, which was then immediately placed into bankruptcy – pausing nearly 40,000 lawsuits filed against J&J, according to Reuters. The bankruptcy will allow the company to payout significantly lower amounts in liabilities and may cancel out some lawsuits altogether, without harming the parent company (Johnson & Johnson).
If you want to enjoy Johnson & Johnson baby powder in the future, you can look out for its cornstarch-based baby powder collection.