May 21, 2020 - It appears an era is finally over—as the lawsuits against the pharmaceutical giant continue to mount, the company claims discontinuing the talc-based baby powder products is a “commercial decision.” Over the coming months, all sales of J & J’s talc-based baby powder products will be discontinued in the United States and Canada. While existing inventory will continue being sold, when the shelves are empty of the iconic baby powder, there will be no more sold in North America.
J & J Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer and Asbestos-Related Cancer - Not only is J & J facing lawsuits from women claiming their ovarian cancer was caused by the use of baby powder talc for feminine hygiene. More recently, there have been thousands of lawsuits alleging the talc-based baby powder is contaminated with asbestos, leading to asbestos-related cancers. The combination of the ovarian cancer claims and the asbestos contamination claims has led to a significant decline in sales for Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson—“America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” or Trusted Friend - Johnson & Johnson began selling their baby powder with talc in the 1890’s and a look through their website is likely to leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling as they proclaim to “care for the world, one person at a time.” And, let’s face it, most of us need only to get a whiff of the scent of baby powder to feel as though we are enveloped in a, soft, safe, secure bubble. There is a flip side to that image, however. In fact, an article in the Huffington Post called Johnson & Johnson “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker.”
Did J & J Hide the Risks Associated with Baby Powder with Talc? Many of the lawsuits faced by Johnson & Johnson accuses the company of hiding the cancer risks tied to talc-based baby powder. While juries have awarded billions of dollars in actual and punitive damages to plaintiffs over the handling of the product, J & J has been successful in getting many of those verdicts reduced or wiped out on appeal.
Shares of the New Jersey-based company declined 0.3 percent in late trading to $148.55. It has long been a puzzle why, since the company had a cornstarch-based baby powder on the market since 1980, they continued selling the talc-based product, particularly in light of the fact that 75 percent of American baby-powder consumers use the cornstarch product, while only 25 percent have continued to use the talc-based product.
J & J Claims the Decision to Discontinue Talc-based Powders in North America was Related to COVID-19 - According to a spokesperson for J & J, the decision to discontinue the talc-based baby powder in North America was a result of the social distancing necessary in manufacturing plants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Otherwise, the spokesman claimed, the company would have probably waited a couple of months to discontinue the product.
Last year, Bausch Health, the maker of Shower to Shower powder with talc, said they reformulated their product to replace talc with cornstarch as the active ingredient, however, the firm did not disclose the switch until asked about it by Bloomberg News. (J & J was the prior owner of Shower to Shower). The spokesman also noted that “We will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the company in the courtroom.”
Thousands of Lawsuits Already Filed Against J & J, More Likely to Come - Talc-based baby powder sales in North America represent only about 0.5 percent of the J & J consumer health sales. The company currently faces thousands of claims that its talc-based products cause cancer, and it is likely many more will be filed. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or an asbestos-related cancer and you believe it could be related to J & J baby powder with talc, you could benefit from speaking to a baby powder cancer lawyer.